“I get pretty aggressive with the canvas…sometimes like, ‘Fuck! I ripped the canvas.’” Michel Bellici says to me about one of her new commissions, a 4×5 foot canvas.
“I’ll throw baby oil on it just to make mess. My best work is when I struggle with the piece, that’s when I care more about it and give it the passion it deserves. It won’t let me alone until all of a sudden it clicks, and then satisfies the drama of its creation.”
The sun is streaming through thunderstorm clouds while I speak with Michel on the phone. The clouds are pendulous in moody purples; about to burst into a deluge. She is describing how she has noticed that her creative process is evolving into an organic flow of channeling, rather than her traditional, trained practice of study in Italy at the renowned Lorenzo de Medici School of Art in Florence.
“I’m moving from nature based figures directly into the human form.” Nearly all of her most recent work contains a human figure.
“Walking the street, taking the train, watching the sunlight through the buildings, seeing how people interact with each other. I witness it and absorb all that emotion, then channel that into a canvas. I intensely watch them.”
Studying at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and living in the art scene of Northampton early in her career, she felt that moving to New York was completely necessary after returning from study in Florence.
“Being in Brooklyn is incredible. I love Bushwick! The people that were born and brought up there are like family. Open arms. I love their Bushwick, old Bushwick.”
Her enthusiasm for everything New York is contagious, and we banter about all the fabulous experiences one has in this amazing place. Michel goes on to reminisce about her “newbie” days as an artist.
“The first college I went to, I had a professor that said I should quit being a painter. So I did, for like 5 years…and it was the worst thing I could’ve done. When I was studying in Italy, it was Rosa- a teacher there in Florence- who got me started again. She said to take some charcoal, make a powder out of the sticks, and use my hands to create. I did, and my art came as a storm!
After a full day of classes, I would line my villa with paper, and just paint. I made some amazing work, and that was it; my whole life changed, and I became me. I feel like I was truly born when I was in Italy.”
Michel considers herself a creator of figurative abstract expressionism. She paints only with her hands and fingers; sometimes using small rags- old t-shirts for days long past. Without a barrier between her hands and the canvas, Michel’s work is evident of emotions that are all together powerful and vulnerable, raw and exposed, revealing and hidden.
“I chose painting because I had to. There never was a thought process to decide to be an artist. I just am. I’ve tried to focus on other things, or have a normal job, but no matter what I always need to paint. I start to ache if I haven’t painted. My life is totally awesome- I just wish for more canvas because I paint non-stop.”
For more about MICHEL BELLICI, visit: www.studiobellici.com