The young Italian artist Frida Castelli has gathered a prodigious and appreciative internet audience since she started posting her artwork online in 2017, and she now has a portfolio which includes prints and books as well as her trademark ink and watercolour paintings of a naked lover enjoying intimacy with herself and her partner.
Not much is known about Frida Castelli beyond the fact that she lives and works in Milan. She discloses very little information about herself. Being relatively anonymous gives her more freedom to express herself; as she has said in one interview, ‘It’s unnecessary to know who I am in order to understand the project I’m embarked on’.
It is clear that nearly all her work is more or less autobiographical. She has said that ‘In my paintings I talk about my long-distance love story, expressing my emotions and my desires’, and that when she creates a new work she often ‘feels a deep melancholy, because I am describing a moment that happened and am left with feeling empty for not knowing if and when it will happen again.’
When asked about the origins of her artistic endeavour, Castelli explains that it was born ‘like most love stories. You get to know a person, you fall in love with them, and the feeling grows day by day. I felt an explosion, like the beginning of a small universe, and I decided to tell him about it in art, to give him back, one piece at a time, all the beauty that this powerful and furious feeling gave me. I’m not a professional illustrator, I do what feels important in life. The project was born with the intention of communicating with one special person, and a series of coincidences over time have brought me an unexpected visibility which has transformed this very intimate and private dimension into something much wider.’
Her large online following, composed almost equally of women and men, clearly senses a deep emotional connection with much of the narrative contained in her work, and since she has been posting regularly to her Instagram and Facebook groups she feels both a reciprocal connection and a responsibility. ‘As my profile has garnered more attention,’ she says, ‘I feel that to more clearly deliver my personal message I want to show real respect towards the people who appreciate and buy my work. It’s like when you host guests, you want always to offer them a dish of pasta and a glass of wine to make them feel welcome.’
In addition to several hundred drawings and paintings, Castelli has now produced four books of her work with short accompanying texts – Love is the Devil, Dear X, Hotel Rooms. and Frattaglie/Offal – which are available from her online store.
We are very grateful to our Russian friend Yuri for introducing us to the work of this artist, and for supplying most of the images.