An Italian artist living and working in Manchester, a degree in architecture and a great passion cultivated since her childhood: recycled printed paper. The most interesting artworks produced by Paola Bazz include 3D-collages, which are a tool and a means of expression of a new artistic language where form and content are somehow combined.
«At a closer look one can see thousands of fragments, words, faces and colours generating a complex abstract image; yet, new, different and simpler images are formed simply by changing one’s point of observation. Everything is relative; everything runs in rapid succession, everything changes». This is what Paola Bazz writes in her website www.paolabazz.com. In Manchester the artist found an extremely curious and stimulating environment, which is open to all forms of art expression. After secondary school, she graduated in Architectural Design at the Venice Iuav University and then worked as interior designer, as well as in the field of graphic design and the setting up of exhibition areas. In parallel, she followed her passion for drawing and painting and continued experimenting new techniques, subjects and materials with a special attention to the recycling and reuse of materials, in particular of paper. She was particularly keen on the reuse of materials which lived previous lives: old newspapers, brochures, recycled papers from magazines and catalogues, waste from printing works, posters.
Who is Paola Bazz and what was her education?
«All my past experiences, both at school and in my profession, have contributed to my education and training as an artist, while curiosity, creativity and love for the recovery materials have characterized my entire professional pathway. As an only child, developing creativity has been a way for me to relieve the boredom of long, lonely and hot summers spent at my parents’ house and my grandparents’, during which I learnt how to be autonomous and carry out my projects independently from the input and the help of others. My grandmother and my mother taught me how to reuse and recover materials by transforming them into something new. My father conveyed me the joy of manual work, while my grandfather the love for drawing and painting. Since I was a child I have always been fascinated by printed paper, its countless uses, its possibility to be transformed, bent and reused by manually creating three-dimensional objects».
Your works: some in 2D and some in 3D. How do you approach different productions?
«My entire production, both 2D and 3D has one great passion in common: recovered printed paper. When I paint, as a support I use newsprint glued on canvas, wood (old wardrobe doors or old boards) or cardboard, while I use the pages of old catalogues or magazines as the base for my drawings.
While printed paper only serves as a support in these latest artworks of mine, in my 3D-collages it becomes a tool and a means of expression of a new artistic language, where a means of expression of a new artistic language where form and content are somehow combined.
By manipulating, transforming, selecting, cutting and bending printed paper I am able to create small or big «concertinas», i.e. large pixels with a square base. Once placed within a rigid square grid, they will be used to make up an image. Each of these pixels has a story, an image, a colour or a single letter in itself and all together they tell a bigger story and create an image, which is complex and simple at the same time».
3D-collages created from recycled paper: when did you start and why?
«On/Off, i.e. my first work of art, came almost by chance. In 2008 I was working at a furnishing project for a new customer and I was preparing a set of presentation boards. On my office desk there were several scraps of magazines and pictures: strips of paper, which were more or less of the same width. During a break I started twining them and created several “concertinas” of various heights, just like I used to do when I was a child. Lots of them started accumulating on the table in a relatively short period of time. Their effect on the table all together was exceptional. Since then I have always thought about turning those “concertinas” into a work of art».
Printed paper and «non-information»…
«To me, printed paper is like a metaphor of our daily lives, of all the contradictions in our society and the chaos in our frenzied lives. We are constantly overwhelmed by news and this overload with the information makes us unable to remain focussed on the same topic for a long time. This lack of concentration affects the way we acquire information, which becomes fragmentary and superficial. The result of this is “non-information”. This overload with information, which is the recurring theme of my works, is perfectly highlighted and shown in this first work of art: any “concertina” contains and refers to a series of information and images (that are visible in the bottom part of the work), which translates into a sort of information black-out (represented by the black “concertinas” in the top)».
What kind of technique do you use?
«The process leading to the creation of any individual work of art comprises several stages, whereby the activity of conception and digital processing of the image that will then be turned into a 3D-collage alternates with the selection of the printed paper used. The latter is chosen in detail taking a number of aspects into account, i.e. its thickness, colour and the graphical effect one wishes to achieve. Paper is then cut and bent into small or big “concertinas”. The image, which has been previously conceived, processed and pixelated, is now conveyed and transferred by positioning the paper “concertinas” into a rigid grid».
This is also no random choice: what is your philosophy?
«Yes, there is definitely a life philosophy behind all this. Everything stems from the idea that any object or material has its own story. When something is thrown away, this is not only a loss from an energy and ecological viewpoint, but also a loss in terms of the story that the object or material concerned brings with itself. This particularly applies to printed paper with its enormous communication power and its immeasurable load of information, messages and images, which make it a real treasure».
Let’s talk about subjects: how do you choose them and where do you draw your inspiration from?
«All my collages pursue a twofold objective: on the one hand, they aim at investigating the boundary between abstract and figurative, thereby creating a pathway through which the two different languages can measure themselves against each other, as well as influence and nourish each other. On the other hand, they intend to analyse the extent to which the human mind is able to rebuild an image, which is processed to such an extent that it almost becomes an abstract composition.
I choose different subjects to achieve these two goals: most frequently, these are people’s faces, their eyes, expressions and stories – this is what occurs more and more often in my collages.
I like playing with the idea that I narrate through faces and stories using printed paper, which in turn contains other stories itself. This way one establishes a continuous cross-reference between the messages contained in the paper of individual “concertinas” and the overall image with a different perception of the work of art depending on the distance from which it is observed».
Who were your masters and how do they still influence you today?
«My work has been and is still influenced today basically by three artists, who did important and interesting research work in fields that are very different from one another. US writer and painter Jean-Michel Basquiat for the use of words, which he uses as an integral part of his paintings, as well as background. The hyper-realistic painter Chuck Close, who is renowned for his large-scale portraits and his method. The starts from a photo and sketches a grid on it, to then bring the grid on canvas on a larger scale. At this stage, he colours each individual box, thereby creating images that are simple and complex at the same time. From the distance, these are amazing portraits. At close range, they reveal very clean-cut details, which then dissolve and become «surprisingly abstract». And finally Jean-Pierre Yvaral, a representative of the op-art who investigated aspects related to optical and psychiatric perception. He has also been a great influencer for his method. He would digitally process his portraits to such an extent, that they become abstract compositions, although the original image was always recognizable.»