The Shape of Na­ture

SLOW Magazine - - Contents - Text: Maretha Lubbe Im­ages © Ara­bella Cac­cia

As soon as Ara­bella Cac­cia ex­plains where her art comes from, and hav­ing seen her work, it all makes sense to me. It just seems to fit per­fectly. Look­ing at her work evokes a wave of emo­tion, much like the ac­tual waves that you might spot wo­ven into her work multi-lay­ered work.

Born in Lon­don to an Ital­ian fa­ther and a South African mother, Cac­cia grew up in Tus­cany, cen­tral Italy, and lived her teenage years in Jo­han­nes­burg. Af­ter spend­ing time in SA’S big­gest city, she found her­self liv­ing and study­ing in some of the big­gest in­ter­na­tional cities – New York, Lon­don and Florence. She now has four daugh­ters – of whom none went into the world of art. Cac­cia laughs at this fact, say­ing that they have def­i­nitely seen enough of that “crazy” world and de­cided it wasn’t for them.

The ori­gin of her new­est ex­hi­bi­tion, With­out Words – which was hosted at Ever­ard Read in the Boland town of Fran­schhoek – con­sists of work she had pre­vi­ously done on baobab trees in Botswana. She vis­ited the South­ern African coun­try to do a se­ries of draw­ings on their in­dige­nous gi­ant baobab trees. One day, she was ly­ing in a ham­mock strung from one of the trees, when she no­ticed the tex­ture of the tree’s bark and all the in­tri­cate pat­terns that it cre­ated. She be­came cap­ti­vated with those del­i­cate pat­terns and started sketch­ing. She even made sil­i­cone casts to make mul­ti­ple prints with. This was where it all started.

Her art cur­rently comes from the pat­terns that she saw in the bark of the baobab. At a later stage, she took a trip to Na­ture’s

Val­ley and was walk­ing by the sea when she no­ticed some fa­mil­iar pat­terns in the rocks lin­ing the shore. This dis­cov­ery ig­nited a fas­ci­na­tion with the shapes and pat­terns found in na­ture. As she de­scribes it, sim­i­lar pat­terns are ev­ery­where, through­out the world. To Cac­cia, they rep­re­sent a com­mon lan­guage in na­ture and there­fore ev­ery­thing can be viewed as in­ter­con­nected.

Af­ter break­ing the shapes down into smaller pieces, Cac­cia painted them all in­di­vid­u­ally, and then utilised them in var­i­ous parts of her art. Each shape then took on its own char­ac­ter, and in­ter­est­ingly, started to re­sem­ble an­cient sym­bols, in­clud­ing the hi­ero­glyphs of an­cient Egypt, and old cave draw­ings.this just re­it­er­ated the in­ter­con­nec­tiv­ity in na­ture and his­tory. As Cac­cia ex­plained this con­cept, it made sense that lan­guage is also con­nected to the tex­tures found in na­ture – how­ever strange that may sound.

Cac­cia uses milk paint, which is made out of milk and lime, to which she adds a pig­ment to make a de­sired colour. When she works on her sculp­tures, each shape is hand­made in­di­vid­u­ally and welded or sol­dered to­gether to make a stun­ning whole.

Be­fore the cur­rent stage of her ca­reer, she fo­cused more on what she terms “con­ven­tional art”. These pieces came from a very or­ganic place and while some were com­mis­sioned, Cac­cia al­ways stayed true to her artis­tic vi­sion in her work, ul­ti­mately lead­ing to the art we are cur­rently able to ap­pre­ci­ate.

As an artist, Cac­cia is cer­tainly not a one-trick pony – she also does live art per­for­mances which have proven very pop­u­lar. To­gether with Jes­sica Bai­ley, a

ta­lented cel­list, they make magic hap­pen. Cac­cia will paint on the wall of the art gallery and not on can­vas, while Bai­ley will play mu­sic on her cello. Cac­cia ex­plains that there is an en­ergy be­tween her and Bai­ley – Cac­cia will go where the mu­sic leads her and will paint what it evokes from within while the pub­lic watches on, ex­cited to see the end re­sult. The aim of these per­for­mances is to ex­pe­ri­ence the unique en­ergy be­tween two cre­atives, as well as ap­pre­ci­ate the art for what it is and rep­re­sents in that mo­ment. She ex­plains that peo­ple have be­come very ma­te­ri­al­is­tic with art and seek to grow their col­lec­tions for the wrong rea­sons. A piece of art should al­ways be ap­pre­ci­ated for what it is in that mo­ment when you first lay eyes on it. Af­ter the per­for­mance, at­ten­dees will have the mem­ory of what they saw un­fold­ing in front of their eyes, and the work will stay on the wall as a re­minder of that cre­ative en­ergy. The only record of the cre­ation process is a short video that cap­tures the en­tirety of the night, and these videos can be found on Cac­cia’s web­site.

Ara­bella Cac­cia’s art is a force to be reck­oned with. It’s art that every­one can re­late to as it con­sists of ev­ery­day, fa­mil­iar shapes fused into stun­ning works with Cac­cia’s sig­na­ture flair mixed in.

Ara­bella Cac­cia is rep­re­sented by Ever­ard Read in both South Africa and the United King­dom. To view more of Cac­cia’s work or to learn more about this enig­matic artist, fol­low her on In­sta­gram @ara­bel­la­cac­cia1, or visit her web­site www.ara­bel­la­cac­cia.com.

Sur­face, milk paint on can­vas, 170 x 170 cm, 2018.

Planet, milk paint on pa­per, 120 x 120 cm, 2017.

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