Artist Profile: Isabella Bertoldo

Isabella Bertoldo uses her paintings to transport her audience to her colourful inner world through her mystical depictions of emotion and mood.

‘Drift’ (2021), acrylic on oil sketch paper, 64(W) x 88(H) cm.

Isabella is a young contemporary artist who mainly works in painting but also with drawing and digital drawing. Growing up in a ‘middle-of-nowhere’ small town, Griffith, Isabella found that there was not enough creative opportunity for her there as she now resides in Ngunnawal and Ngambri Country, Canberra. She is currently completing her b. in Visual Art at the Australian National University. She almost made the choice to study psychology instead, this fascination with the human mind becomes evident in her work as it is concerned with Isabella’s own mental states and experiences.

‘I. Flight of the Navigator — Childish Gambino’, (2020), acrylic on map paper, 56(W) x 76(H) cm.

Isabella’s art style is incredibly multifaceted as her work is equally sensitive and powerful. She found her art going through an evolution during her years at art school, originally starting with realism and portraits in moody colour palettes, Isabella has now discovered her love for depicting the fantastical and ethereal in her abstract works. Now, she uses bright colours and plays with dynamic movement in her works as she focuses on creating a specific feeling or mood. She cites Agnes Cecile as one of her biggest inspirations, Cecile is an Italian artist most known for her dimensional watercolour portraits which portray vivid emotion in soft colours. Cecile’s influence becomes evident in Isabella’s work through her layered watercolours and vivid depictions of human emotion. Isabella describes her creative process as almost a metaphysical experience as she “submits [herself] to the craft” and allows the fluidity and expressiveness of her medium (usually acrylic paint) to do as it pleases. Isabella loves the unpredictability of using palette knives and merging colour and shape to create something new and unknown. Music is also a big inspiration in Isabella's art practice as an integral element during the creation of her works but also the subject point of a lot of them. She loves the idea of capturing the mood, vibe and feel of a song and translating them onto a page. Isabella’s style is energetic and powerful and she works with colour and movement to create something other-worldly.

‘Surrender’, 5/8 of the ‘Liminality’ Series, Oil on oil sketch paper, 205(W)x295(H)mm

Despite now finding her niche in abstract and surrealism, she still dips her toe in realism from time to time, as in her work Surrender. Surrender is a part of a series of oil paintings called Liminality which each discusses the interplay of photography and reality in art. This series was created during the latter half of 2020 when Canberra was in lockdown. Isabella recalls going on nightly walks during this time as a safe way to get out of her room. This is where she found her inspiration for this work, she came to see the streetlights that would illuminate her late night walks as one of the only things that were consistent in a time of complete inconsistency. Isabella describes how these streetlights became their own beings to her as she admired their grandness and ability to provide her with a sense of safety. She created this oil painting non-traditionally as she worked from dark to light, allowing the colours to blend and blur. Surrender speaks to the feeling of isolation as its context suggests, but also plays to a sense of hope and safety as when you are alone in the black of night, that’s what a streetlight becomes to you. She is unafraid of negative space as the deep black of night swallows the edges of this painting and the streetlight stands as a god-like beacon of hope with its ethereal glow. Isabella beckons her audience to surrender to the light with this work, as without it there is only black.

‘This is paradise?’Acrylic and mixed media (paper and ink) on cardboard, [Measurements Pending].

Isabella is planning on graduating next year and hopes to appear in exhibitions and art shows as she completes her schooling. Her main focus though will be to continue working and developing her art skills and to devote herself to mastering her craft. This is all in hopes to pursue a career in tattoo artistry after she graduates. Isabella has admired tattooing as an art form for many years and is looking to expand her portfolio in order to do an apprenticeship. The “human connection” of tattooing is what has drawn her to this career as she is excited to work with and create a piece of permanent art for people that really means something to them. Isabella is excited to see where her career and the art world take her in the next part of her evolution as an artist.

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