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Camberwell College of Arts Foundation Diploma: Isabella Paganuzzi takes over

Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.,
Written by
Loula Mercedes
Published date
08 May 2018

Hi my name Isabella Paganuzzi, I am from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (more specifically a little suburb on the outskirts, Newtown Square.) I owe my initial artistic endeavours to my mom, she brought art into our home and started me at a young age on my first art classes at the local art centre. I attended a public high school, with an ill-equipped art department. Most of my further education in the arts came from pre-college Saturday school courses I attended at the University of the Arts Philadelphia, and a summer pre-college foundation course at the Pratt Institute.

I’m endlessly intrigued in capturing the human figure, and our interactions, in our most mundane state, in the process of living day to day. Humans are infinitely entertaining and interesting. I take photos so often, I have developed a hack for capturing unguarded pictures. The images I gravitate towards liking, and want to turn to painting, are of slackened faces. Of moments of calm, when my friends are not considering the camera at all.

These moments of everyday life that seem perfectly normal, monotonous, are my inspiration.

The silence between conversations, the faces friends make while biting into a slice of pizza, mismatched mugs on the kitchen table, everything that would otherwise be overlooked, all of the good, silently interesting parts of this life.

Finding the identities and subjects of my work takes going out and living. I prefer recreating, and occasionally slightly embellishing, moments I have lived, instead of masterfully concocting the perfect scenario for a painting to arise. This is why, rather then a live model-sitting fabricated moment, I much prefer working from photograph. It’s in the moments of reprise and everyday life that the work stems from. Every practice of perception is a practice of distortion, taking what we think is of little importance and highlighting it in all of its norm-glory.

I work in acrylic mostly, I am fond of its sticky, permanent nature. In a constant search for change and experimentation when I look at a painting, I’m also looking for the move that’s going to set off something else, the whole painting is like a problem I’m trying to solve. Often
times, a colour palette of a single painting will change four, five times before I settle. Adding undefined areas of textured oil pastel and pasted in newspaper clippings are ode to my indecisive approach. I enjoy working large scale because, once settled on a palette, I like to feel that I’m in the colour field with the paint, its an immediate way to abstract your space.

It was not my initial intention to move to London. I applied to and was accepted to study at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn on an immediate BA degree course. I applied to foundation after visiting UAL on a trip to London to see family. When I was offered a place, it felt like an immediate indication that making the move, an ocean away from what I was originally planning, was what I was meant to do. Detaching myself from familiarity, while initially a difficult adjustment, has been an incredibly maturing process. When you’re an artist, you have to be cool with being uncomfortable, pretty much all the time, it’s what drives new discovery.

Foundation has been continuous growth, in my work and in my identity myself. Having the opportunity to be fully engaged in and surrounded by your work, with little outside distraction, is an incredible experience. Foundation allowed me the time to find myself in my painting and advance in my practice.

I have recently concluded work on my final project, a set of five paintings, documenting and, in a way, monumentalizing depictions of friends and everyday life. My project was loosely based on documenting parts of Philadelphia that I moved away from, but still considered a large part of my identity. Paintings of Spruce Street Market, Rittenhouse Square, Reading Terminal Market, and grocer stands in South Philadelphia, take precedence in my body of work. Being able to have a platform to express these images and invite viewers into my other world is an enlightening process; showing people parts of a city, thousands of miles away, that they may never see, through my lens. I am consistently flowing creatively, I don’t really know how to stop it. I’m a big enthusiast of sketchbook keeping, its an easy way to always be working. When in the ever so infrequent creative rut, it’s important to be reminded that every mundane task can be done creatively, and a product is not always a signifier of creative productivity; the way you cook your eggs, make your bed, rearrange the books on your shelf, is all expression.

Studying at Camberwell has opened me up to a new world of artists. The students I worked alongside in the studio were consistently inspiring parts of my practice and giving me new ideas of ways to work. Working in such a large studio meant seeing something new everyday, from materials to processes. The push and pull from peers during critiques, and in the studio in general, was such an invigorating and maturing part of the process. Next year, I am heading back home to continue my studies. I will be studying at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York on a BFA Fine Arts and BA Art History dual major.

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Foundation Diploma