Nini is an ageless character, who lives in a world suspended in time.
At times, she is a girl, and at other times, she is already a woman. Her world floats in a dimension of dreams and memories, anchored to reality by the shadows and objects that can be found in the photo alongside the drawing.
In the place where she lives, I am able to travel backwards and forwards along the timeline, without ever having to move from the place where I am. It’s a bringing together of all the things experienced in life, reworked using the visual language of signs and told through the use of colour.
Every season, age, state of mind has its own colour, its own peculiarities and, by drawing Nini’s world, I am able to tell the story of what I am experiencing through the pictures I draw.
You might find her lost in contemplation, as she welcomes a strange, damp and gloomy spring. Or see her actually transformed into that same season, as she hides behind a grey mask of fog. The colours are crucial to the photos; they create the atmosphere, they indicate when the picture was taken, they give the photo that snapshot feel, of a moment in life captured using a more-or-less universal language.
Through her, I have told the story of the passing of time and of the seasons, placing her beside meadow flowers in improvised vases. And there she is again, holding on tightly to a gust of wind that is carrying away her thoughts, or contemplating blue flowers, or standing under a shower of pink petals.
Often, all it takes is an object to catch hold of and it can transport you into a warm autumn, for example, where the leaves have secret lives and nursery rhymes to sing.
I believe that, more than experience, it is what we choose to remember that more accurately represents us, more than what we have lived through. It is for this reason that it is so important for me to give my illustrations a physical space. It is for this reason that it is important that it is a really good photograph because the message goes far beyond the drawing itself. I do loads of trial shots, around the house, in search of the best light to tell the story I have in mind. Often, it’s a real hunt for the ideal moment. Sometimes, it’s the well-lit corner that actually gives me the idea for a drawing; other times, it’s a combination of what I would like to say and the light that I find instead, at that particular moment in time.
Often I’ve been asked if it’s the drawing, the story or the idea of the photo itself that comes first. I have never been able to answer, as, in reality, every picture has an emotion all of its own to convey. They are all tightly bound elements, that, just like in Nini’s world, don’t really have any clear time sequence.
The end result is always a mix of all these things with a great deal of patience in waiting for them to come together in just the right way, so that the story can also be understood by those who are looking at it.
It’s a sort of continuous dialogue between the illustration, the real world of the objects, the light and the shadows. As well as between the person looking and the one telling the story, a journey that is never only in one direction and that changes according to experiences lived and stories told.
Cinzia Bolognesi – graphic designer and illustrator