Innovation meets creativity in Carla Tolomeo’s extraordinary works of art. The Italian born artist creates extraordinary art pieces using the humble, often overlooked, daily use object – the chair. She transforms the ordinary furniture to exquisite pieces of art that leave the viewer in awe. Playing with colours, textures and shapes, Tolomeo crafts objects of desire that enthral.
The Italian born artist’s versatility includes her mastery in painting, engraving, sculpture and ceramics. From her childhood, Tolomeo was encouraged by renowned Italian artist and writer Giorgio De Chirico and, later by the acclaimed Renato Guttuso amongst other artists who appreciated and stimulated her artistic abilities.
With the support of these important figures in Italian culture, Tolomeo held her first exhibition in Lugano, Italy in 1971 inspired by Japanese paintings. After moving to Milan, Tolomeo began developing her studies on the works of Vittore Carpaccio and between 1976 and 1980 she exhibited across Europe and in the United states. Aside from practicing art herself, Tolomeo taught engraving at the Brera Academy and at the Venetian Academy of Art.
Tolomeo exhibited her paintings in Europe and the United States until 1997. After her last exhibition Tribute to Leonardo, at the Leicester’s Galleries in London, she astonished her collectors with her famous Sculptured Chairs. In her first catalogue dedicated to these sculptures Tolomeo described the philosophy behind them as “a mutation, in a transformation from any object to an object of art, starting from the most banal and domestic furnishing element: the Chair”
The artist’s works are on display at Oblong Contemporary Art Gallery in Dubai. When asked about the investment appeal of Tolomeo’s chairs, Paola Marucci, founder and partner of the gallery said, “I have always loved Carla’s works, from the minute I set sight on them. They create such magical feelings and moments with their unorthodox shapes and mystic colours. If there is an artwork that is relevant more than ever right now, in terms of an investment, it would have to be a high-quality chair to boost your interiors whilst working from home.’
Combining whimsical with artistry, Tolomeo transforms chairs into works of wonder that seem both real and unreal. Every piece is unique and has a story of its own. Whether to boost your home office or add a remarkable piece of art to your space, Tolomeo’s works are beyond extraordinary. In an engaging interview, the ‘Lady of Chairs’, as Carla Tolomeo is often referred to, talks about her journey in the world of creating art that mesmerises.
What inspires you?
To be honest, everything inspires me but a few things in specific. Firstly everything from the past, to the present and the future. Memories and the nostalgia that is linked to certain memories are a big source of my inspiration for each and every work/piece that I create too. Of course, the classic place from which people take inspiration, is from other artists and I use that too, even in terms of musical artists.
What do the chairs connote?
Every piece is completely different. Let’s take the chairs that are inspired by roses for example. One rose chair will be totally different to another as I don’t like the idea of creating two roses that mirror each other, because I made each one at a different time in my life and each time, the mood that inspired them is different. Each piece is a tale of what I’m living at the time, or of a memory, of how much I want to relive.
Is there a message you are sending through these beautiful works of art?
If I had to speak of one message that influences, inspires and generally lines itself throughout every piece of work, then I would say that message is life. I have nothing but the passion of living.
Do you a name for every chair?
They do indeed. For example, Black Grapes (2011), Le Palmared (2014), Feu Follet (2017) and most recently The Tender Wave (2018). The names I give to each pieces is always related to the story I would like to tell by building the piece. In a nutshell, I name each work piece by piece, depending on what stage of my life I am in, for those who can read it.
How do you choose the materials that you work with?
The fabrics and the materials I use are like the paints for a painter. They inspire, they tell, they suggest forms and solutions. For this reason I’m perpetually in search of new materials, to tell new stories. Ancient materials, modern materials, it doesn’t matter, as long as they are beautiful, as beauty is a joy for life.