“It’s very autobiographical,” says abstract artist Crystal Fischetti of her new solo exhibition, opening tomorrow at Grove Square Galleries. “It's not just about the year 2020, but it's about the last decade for me. It’s about the things I’ve lived through, the places I’ve been. It's very personal.”
Hello Again is what Fischetti calls a ‘reintroduction’ after a decade of traumas and soul searching. The last few years have seen her live in New York, Detroit and Los Angeles, where she narrowly avoided a drive-by shooting: “I literally ducked… it’s a life changing experience.” She moved out of toxic relationships, suffered grief and, throughout, developed her art from large scale public murals on the streets and freeways of LA to seeing her work displayed in collections of MONA, New York, the San Diego Institute and Yue Hu Museum, Shanghai.
“I've definitely been stepping into my light to become more confident,” she explains. “I've become more competent without the ego, I think.”
For the exhibition, Fischetti has collated 36 pieces, one for each year of her life, each of them bold, colourful and textured- serving as symbolic visual diary. Many reflect specific moments in her life. Two; Light’n the Darkness and Thank You, Alan, deal directly with the artist’s personal experience of grief. It is something she won’t be drawn on specifically, but hopes there is enough in the works for others to resonate with and draw comfort.
“It was very hard to let them go when we installed yesterday,” she admits. “It really is like letting go of your babies.”
One in particular, was a wrenching departure. Birth (hearth earth) day features Fischetti’s own torn, twisted and dyed bedsheets. It was a piece created organically, in the moment when inspiration struck.
“I just kind of saw my sheets on the floor and was like wait, something's happening here. What's going on?” she remembers. “So I peeled it off, because it's sort of folded. And then I was like, I need to stretch this over frame I need to do this now. And then it was just evolving. It’s a very sacred piece to me now.”
Spirituality is a key component of Fischetti’s art. She also works as a spiritual coach, aiming to guide and heal others doing shamanic practices. Her art, she feels, is an extension of that, and her current exhibition has been created as sort of spiritual déjà vu; playing with the idea that she is saying hello, again to a version of herself she hasn’t met yet, but somehow already knows.
Fischetti also draws heavily from her own heritage as a black South American and Italian woman. She spent early lockdown in Mexico with her brother, painting (in the grand tradition of Latin American art) great murals on the walls of the house, a habit she acquired early in life. She speaks lovingly of her Italian uncle, reassuring her mother that a young Fischetti “had talent” and therefore should be allowed to paint on the walls of their newly decorated home. “My poor mum,” she laughs.
But she is hardly the first in her family to paint on walls. An ancestor is the Italian rococo painter Fedele Fischetti who was famous for his frescoes. The Smithsonian museum in Detroit once invited her to see their archive of his work.
“I was just expecting a book or something. And they laid out this beautiful oak table with so many sketches of his amazing work,” she recalls, “That was really cool. I was just looking at going, I can so see myself in him.”
The power of art through the ages is not lost on her, nor is the impact she believes it can have during a pandemic. Opening an exhibition in lockdown was hardly how Fischetti imagined she would be showcasing these pieces, but it has not left her daunted.
“I do really hope people can see the works in real life, by the time we close in April,” she says. “I have already had people had visceral reactions to some of the works, talking about light or death or pain or grief. This is how affecting art can be, that’s why I feel it is so important…especially now.”
Hello Again! A solo exhibition by Crystal Fischetti runs 11 February - 9 April at Grove Square Galleries. Virtual tours are live on the site now.
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