Interview by Tiziano Thomas Dossena
[L’Idea Magazine, January 8, 2016]
Lella Beretta, international photographer of whom we talked about in our magazine regarding her works on display in New York, has kindly agreed to an interview and we took this opportunity to ask questions that would give light on her artistic and private lives. We are sure that our readers will be delighted with her answers as much as we were…
L’IDEA: How and when did your start career as a photographer?
LELLA BERETTA: Photography was inside me since childhood… In fact, at the age of nine I wanted as a Christmas gift a camera that allowed me to capture my dolls with their clothes and their hairstyles … and from there, my “destiny” was marked… I graduated in Philosophy because humanities led me to investigate and analyze all that was related to the ”humans”, but I especially fell in love with a part of the philosophy that studied “Beauty” in its deepest meaning: “Aesthetics”. This discipline soon became a passion, a continuous search for culture and art, to the point of feeling a great need to transform it into artistic and figurative expression. Photography helped me in this and the “passion” became for me also a job!
L’IDEA: You call yourself an artist/photographer. Why?
LELLA BERETTA: “Artist” is a definition that I have never assigned to myself. It’s in fact a title awarded by comparing high-level international competitions, having won awards and trophies. Juries judging the works are composed of great artists and after assigning prestigious awards, many times and in many nations, decide to award honors acknowledged all over the world to the author, and this has happened to me. Actually, I’ve always felt different from most people simply because from a young age I saw details that others did not see or did not notice, and I felt great emotion observing all that is beautiful around me…
L’IDEA: Who is the artist (painter) who inspires you the most?
LELLA BERETTA: My inspirations were never photographers but painters. I am spellbound in front of the romantic paintings of the Impressionists, I love Flemish art and I bow in front of the painters of the past who have given us their real artistic “photographs” using only the brush and their immense artistic talent. I’ve always wanted to do the opposite, transform reality into painting through my camera using my creativity and imagination!! I admit it is not easy, but I try, always.
L’IDEA: Do you have a photographer you feel as an essential reference point in the development of your interest in photography or in your artistic choices? LELLA BERETTA: I do not have any photographers as landmarks for my path. I have always followed my instincts and my taste, never worrying about fashions and trends or whether my pictures would appeal or not to others. It interests me to express myself completely, giving way to my creativity and imagination, photographing also what does not really exist, or looking for bucolic worlds or farmers’ realms where time has stopped and it’s equal to an ancient past. I have to feel free from the schemes and rules, just as I am as a person. I do not like photographic reportage, but instead I long for emotional beauty.
L’IDEA: When you take pictures, what are your favorite subjects and why?
LELLA BERETTA: the subjects I prefer to photograph are the ones that move me; the “Human Figure”, however, is the center of my “Photography.” I love taking pictures of children, women, old people, never stolen as if reporting… but told accurately and intimately through their faces, their eyes and especially the often bucolic or agrarian environment in which they live. I also love to play with my fanciful imagination… In this case, the women, beautiful and having a little of Renaissance in them, are the protagonists of a “world” that does not seem to exist anymore, harmonious, beautiful, but that in reality exists and surrounds us, and we watch it but do not “see” it. The Fairy Tales Collection is the outcome of my artistic research of this “Timeless Beauty”.
L’IDEA: I read that your activities are not limited to artistic photography, but that you are a photographer by trade, i.e. portraits, weddings, and so on. How do you bring together these two lives? Are there any conflicts?
LELLA BERETTA: As I said, after graduating in Philosophy I thought that it would be nice to transform into a job my passion. I tried it and was able to achieve that. Of course, the daily photographer occupation forces me to take shots that may not be exciting per se, but if the passion, energy and commitment are present, the result can only be positive. I actually have always kept my “style” also in the commissioned works. So, no conflicts, only more time for photography work and less time available for the hobby.
L’IDEA: From your recent curriculum, I read that you had a lot of success at a high level in the U.S.A. Can you talk a little about that?
LELLA BERETTA: I participated in several international competitions in the United States, getting many prestigious awards: Gold Medals, Honorable Mentions and many admissions in California, New York and New Jersey. I’ve been five times in New York, engaged in shows in Manhattan, and my work was for two years at the Agora Gallery, obtaining critical acclaim. Maybe the Americans like my style? For sure I love New York. I took thousands of photos that have not yet managed to settle in a beautiful digital projection and are still waiting to return there, maybe after some call for new exhibitions! Before returning to Italy, I sent to President Obama a canvas on the value of the “Brotherhood” The image was a tender embrace between two children of different race. The same image was also sent to Pope Francis, and was greeted with pleasure by him, who sent me an exciting Thank You note.
L’IDEA: You have also received many awards and accolades around the world. Could you explain the importance of these awards? FIAP (International Federation of Photographic Art) is an international federation that brings together all the national photographic associations. Your level of artistic distinction within the FIAP EFIAP was elevated from silver to EFIAP Gold. What does that mean to you and how did you get to this level?
LELLA BERETTA: I was passionate from the beginning about Photographic Art and I met through the FIAP, “International Federation of Photographic Art”, the existence of an art world that appealed to me and I conquered more and more. Magnificent Creative Photographers of all nations participated in competitions guaranteed by FIAP, just to meet, exhibit their work, improve and get any prizes for entering the artistic world-rankings. I obtained many years ago the AFIAP (Artist of FIAP) designation, followed by the Efiap (Excellence de la FIAP), and from there I began the various levels of artistic value obtained through many awards and admissions in the world’s competitions. After the Bronze and Silver, this year I finally will be awarded the “Gold Level”, of which I am proud, and I will be the first woman artistic-photographer ever to receive it in Italy. I am also a representative of the Female Italian Artistic Photography in the World, and sometimes I’m part of the Italian team in the competition related to the World Cup of Photographic Art.
L’IDEA: What is the dream of your life?
LELLA BERETTA: The Dream of my life? Well, partly I already achieved it: I have a beautiful job, lived as fun rather than a need or a necessity, I reached a very satisfactory artistic level and I retained the persistence of my “magical enthusiasm” in taking my “pictures”, I have two wonderful children and a beautiful family, a constant competition, tough but proactive to myself and my husband, who is also a very good FIAP Artist… Perhaps, the dreams of my life that still need to be realized could be two… The first, a challenge to the world of the written word (yours, as I understand): to be able to describe “Great” World Characters in various fields with only a handful of “shots”… The second is a dream decidedly feminine and maybe childish… I created the Photographic Collection “Fairy Tales”, which has won, and keeps on winning awards all over the world, and has been placed on a Facebook page that has had a huge success with 35000 likes in a short time.
Images, as I said, of “magical female figures”, suspended between reality and the dream world, plunged into rarefied environments and atmospheres symbolizing the ‘ eternal BEAUTY” without time or space, an “inner beauty, almost philosophical.” There were some Fairies t-shirts reproduced in digital printing and bags that collect many “tales” in a striking fairies patchwork of many colors. A want for Fables, Beauty and Magic, dear Tiziano, in a minimalist era, which is technological and without decorations!! Here, the difficult dream to realize is this: I want my Fairies to fly everywhere to bring beauty, to be worn by young, transgressive girls with ripped jeans, the purple crest and tattoos all over the body, but with on the heart the Fairy Tales symbol of the desire for beauty and the desire to dream, sleeping but never dead within each of us.
L’IDEA: If I had the opportunity to meet any historical figure, who would it be and why? What would you ask him (or her)?
LELLA BERETTA: Do not laugh at my answer, but in light of my latest inspirations, Fairy Tales I mean, I would put myself for a while in a decidedly baroque era, exalting the aesthetic point of view, perhaps the court of the Sun King, where everything had unique décor, everything was a work of art, where the houses and palaces abounded of paintings, inlays, carvings, greca decorations, where the gardens were extolling the beauty of flowers, romantic statues, magnificent fountains and women were wrapped in layers of lace and brocades, where, in short, I would not have made any effort to create a rich photographic collection of romantic Dames and just as charming environments…
L’IDEA: Where do you imagine being in ten years?
LELLA BERETTA: Ten years is a long time… My job takes me to meet a lot of people and also to get a bit in their private lives. I see and document wonderful things and I also witness sad and painful events, therefore in ten years I hope to be around again, first of all!! Where, it does not matter, the important thing is that all the wrinkles that will turn me old physically will be unable to make the imaginative and enthusiastic girl also in me grow old. I hope to continue to see “beauty” everywhere and continue to dream like children!
L’IDEA: I Hope to see you soon in New York at the opening of a solo exhibition, and thank you from all our readers for your excellent and interesting answers. LELLA BERETTA: I really hope to come back to New York!! Photography is Art and Culture, and Italian art and creativity is unparalleled. So, Tiziano, since you are Italian and love Italian Art and Culture, get to work to make this happen as soon as possible… ha ha .. (Translated by Tiziano Thomas Dossena) GALLERY