Paola Tassetti – When botanical anatomy meets visual art

Paola Tassetti is the botanical guru who merges nature, anatomy and art.

Paola Tassetti is a young Italian artist who has a particular approach in her artistic practice as it often sprouts by merging two opposite worlds – the anthropic and organic. By bringing together those two contradictions, it highlights the exchange between the body, imagination and nature, all of which are translated into anatomical and botanical elements.

She experiments with exploration in a variety of disciplines and mediums that constantly accompanies with an exceptional storytelling process. The aestheticism in her practice examines the body in its more emotional sphere, through a collection of plants and utensils associated with the past narratives. The compositions are designed to depict apparent tensions and paradoxical visual balances that intents to incorporate as a whole. 

Tell us a little about yourself. What was the determining factor in choosing your profession?

I nourish on landscape that allows me to know who I am, perceiving any state of consciousness that comes from plant elements. It has always been my “sensitive way” of inhabiting the sense organs (eye, ear, vestibule, olfactory mucosa and gustatory mucosa).  

What determined my choice mostly was the need to “make a soul”, to represent it.  

The abode of human thought is the soul, the abode of the soul is the spirit, the abode of the spirit is the body. A corporal necessity is therefore tireless and continuous between the present and the past, culture and nature, internal anatomy and plant filaments, mind and body.  

A contemporary odyssey that explores and gives new shape to physical territories and mental landscapes born with the need to provide internal visions. The choice took place naturally and empathically and I feel very privileged to use it to live, to exist fully.
Io Avverto, avvertire è quello che inseguo. (I inform, inform is what I pursue.)
Volgere l’animo, la mente. (Turn into your soul, your mind.)

Knowing that you have studied architecture, particularly in architecture landscape, did it inspire you in your artistic path? If so, how did you incorporate your education background in your research and work? 

A fundamental aspect of my modus operandi is the manual work and its compositional rhythm. Since the beginning of my training in architecture, it has been the paradigm of a dimension where introspective analysis takes place. Collecting, drying, photographing, drawing, composing and painting are the steps that often occur in my creative process.

Through the aesthetic forms that I find in the landscape that surrounds me, I develop the will to associate organs and anatomical parts that most identify me in particular moments.  A procedure that I developed during my academic studies thanks to a great mentor from : Cristiano Toraldo di Francia,  cofounder of Superstudio.

Through the love and research for landscape with collages and radical studies, he opened my eyes to achievable utopias, to surrealism and the grace of the contents. My background has deeply enforced me with a firm backbone to face the creative genesis in the artistic field.

By reviewing your work, we can see that there is a contemporary odyssey that explores and gives new shape to physical territories and mental landscapes between the present and the past, the culture and the nature, the mind and the body. Would you mind walking us through the process in how you realise your works? What are you drawn to mostly? 

The collection of basic forms, like a branch, a leaf captures the universe of time. It induces my imagination to enter into a new compositional poetics. I classify and internalize the structure, functions, forms and grace of plant elements and subsequently analyse the anatomical pathologies of the subjects I want to portray. Their encounter takes place through sketches and drafts on paper where the collected subjects come together in a concrete bond.

The studies on paper are digitized and stored in a large personal archive, which allows me to formulate their aesthetic and pathological (anatomical) order. The textures overlap by merging into autonomous subjects, arterial leaves, sight eardrums, filamentous musculature, blood vessels of plant sap which I represent by means of silk-screen printing and / or printing on canvas in a first monochromatic layer and then proceed with hand-retouching by means of oil paints, inks, pantones, watercolours, acrylics.

The thing that attracts me the most in the present is “sentirmi dentro la mia corporatura (feel myself inside my body)”, diverting the soul from human things and turning it to plants, animals, minerals, statues, flowers. A procedure that is by no means out of date, because that act can be the sign of a point of SELF-CONSERVATION EFFORT, SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS that is, the desire to take part in a superior existence.

Please tell us about the specific materials and elements you choose to use in your art and about mixing natural as an archival collection?  

What most nourishes and inspires me in the search for materials to use in creative genesis, comes from what I borrow from anatomy, biology, botany and archaeology. I look for new identities from the elements themselves, redefining the reality that surrounds me and therefore my own identity.

Readings, manuals, engravings, antique dealers, special books, treatises on anatomy and botany, “taxonomic” rules to upset, Italian landscapes to classify, become PSYCHOGEOGRAPHS for my memory which then transcribes such research on canvas, on paper or by means of installations.

Anyone who has not been completely anaesthetised spiritually, being in a wood, or in a spring meadow, or simply looking at a statue depicting a divinity, one will unconsciously and perhaps with a hint of disquiet feel that he/she might be PENETRATED in a different dimension from the daily one. Instead, it is a SPIRITUAL dimension.

Has there been a moment in your career as an artist that you would consider a turning point for you?

Yes, I remember the exact day when I became aware of wanting to turn my soul towards my skills through art and therefore wanting to return to my roots – to use body, hands, intellect, interiority in the service of creative freedom, grace and research. I was in London and was working as a landscape architect, I had just graduated and had abandoned painting, classification, silence.

That day at the end of August, I remember feeling “heroically free” in making a plane ticket to return to my medieval village of birth, where my “womb” is currently my laboratory which is my base camp of experimentation and creation. It was a fundamental moment to accept my skills and my FREEDOM.

What is next for your work? Do you have any plans for the upcoming year?

I am working on several group exhibitions, including the exhibition at the Officine Fratti in Perugia at the end of February with Butik Collective. And on March 7, my personal exhibition in Genoa will be inaugurated, which is called ARTEFICE at the Galleria Lazzaro, curated by Andrea Grotteschi. I will bring them some new works of “BESTIARIO CONTEMPORANEO” works that are born from an oracular, prophetic and mystery vision of reality. A kind of fusion between religion, eroticism, rituals and desire, a full will to RESTORE the DESIRE of an EROS in AGONIA.

In June, I will have another personal exhibition at Tomav di Moresco with Andrea Giusti.

My plans for the coming year include residences and artistic collaborations in order to get better in developing creative freedom. Centrale Fies in Trento, Periferica Residency in Sicily are some of the destinations that invited me for such collaborations. It will lead me to a risky journey, but I will be going with open eyes and strained ears, in the belief that I can decipher the divine signs and the enigmas that are hidden in the natural kingdom and in the soul.


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