One to Watch

Anna Madia

Anna Madia studied painting at the Academy of Fine Art of Turin, Italy, and currently lives and works in France. In 2011, she was among the group of artists selected by Vittorio Sgarbi for the Italian Pavilion of the 54th Venice Biennial (Piedmont Region). In 2004, she was selected as a finalist at the Italian Factory Prize; in 2006 at the Cairo Award; and in 2007, at the British Portrait Award of the National Portrait Gallery of London. She was a finalist in the 2014 Saatchi Art The Body Electric Showdown Competition.

Anna explores the human subject in her paintings that feature soft brush work and a muted color palette. Taking the classic genre of portraiture, she lends it a contemporaneous spin by concealing the faces and eyes of her subjects with human hair and white doilies. This creates tension in her paintings: although portraiture typically conveys a sense of intimacy, the inability to see the subjects’ eyes deconstructs that notion, and instead the viewer is left with a sense of estrangement.

What are the major themes you pursue in your work?
The portrait is very important in my work. I started to draw people when I was a child. My actual subjects live in a sleepwalker’s universe, caught in a moment that lies between dreaming and waking. I’m interested in the hypnagogic hallucinations and the troubles of sleep, and I try to use some feminine symbols important from my childhood: the wool used in mattresses, hair, doilies, and so on…

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
The best advice I have received as an artist is to work hard and to have the capacity for self examination and that of my work. Therefore, I need to allow for space to renew and continue researching.

Prefer to work with music or in silence?
With music!  This help me to concentrate and forget the external world. I have my personal compilations “mood atelier”: from Satie to Joy Division!

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?
“Flying Demon” by Mikhail Vrubel.

Who are your favorite writers?
Arthur Rimbaud, Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Federico Garcia Lorca, Virginia Woolf, Dario Fo, Boris Vian…