Interview: Cetty Previtera

Dear Cetty, would you like to introduce yourself for ANAH?


I am a painter, I live in Sicily at the foot of Etna. I like to define myself as an archaic painter, it seems to me that this definition collects my being linked to ancient languages ​​and gestures, also defining the primitive nature of my painting. To introduce myself, I like to think and say that, like all of us, I am the result of my memory. Memory gives the possibility to proceed, find solutions and grow, while maintaining own essence.


When did you understand that ART was your way, your life?


I started painting late. I did not do artistic studies until I graduated in Education and then also a Masters in non-verbal languages. After an unsatisfactory period in terms of work and after the birth of my son, I decided to devote my time to the study of painting, absolutely not thinking that it could become my profession. The meeting with the masters Giuseppe Puglisi and Piero Zuccaro, the curiosity towards painting practice, the joy and awareness of the color that slowly found space on the canvas, put me on a path that perhaps was already traced but which I finally recognized like mine. The emotion of the work for the first group exhibition, after a few years of study, gave a good confirmation to my feeling of wanting to proceed with the painting.


What was your first creation? Do you remember which kind of emotion did you feel?


I don’t think I can talk about my first creation ever. Even if I have not done artistic studies, I have always been attracted by colors, signs, manual skills. But I remember and still feel the feeling of awareness of the first steps towards something that went beyond technique, the excitement of creating something that went beyond real representation. Excitement, desire to do and discover are the emotions that I started feeling years ago in the academy and that I am still looking for. A few years ago, working on a piece that was driving me crazy, for which I couldn’t find a solution, I decided to cancel it, delete it. The gesture of canceling the work done up to that moment immediately began to take on a meaning that went beyond the elimination of an image. With a dark, nocturnal color, it was as if for the first time I felt the sensation of painting through the gesture.


How did you arrive at the research that we can admire today?


I do not know. I got there by painting, I don’t think there can be any other way. Gradually I began to realize that I was attracted to a certain type of reality, of images, structures, and layers of color. It is not easy to understand what you want, you begin to draw, to paint, slowly you begin to feel more. At a certain point the painting changes, it decides in which direction to go, if it is allowed to be done, without forcing it into rigid technical and mental parameters. My most recent works are born from images of nature and woods that in the studio find a way to transform themselves into chromatically different realities, in pictorial skin which is something else. The work begins when my eyes recognize an element that is metabolized through painting.


Which is your creative process?  When do you understand when the piece is finished?


The process begins with choosing an image that is structure. Lines, spots, division of space. I mark, trace, eliminate, I begin to give depth. I believe the conclusion is nothing more than the recognition of a balance, of a reality that can exist on its own, stand up and be recognized, where any shortcomings find support as a whole.


Which is the most important tool for you in your art?


Till today, my most important tool is color. I can’t imagine my work without the infinite play that color gives to me.


When does a piece make you satisfied?


I find satisfaction when a piece represents me, speaks of me. I find great satisfaction in making large format works, because it seems to me that they contain me completely.


How much Sicily gives to you, in terms of inspirations?


Sicily gives me a lot in terms of inspiration, especially the territory that is immediately around me. The mountain, the black stone and the blue sky, the sea in the distance, specially nature untouched by human. Sicily, I also think involuntarily, with the colors of its folklore, the noise of its shouting and the scents, is present in me and somehow comes out. Perhaps in the impetuousness of bright colors and primitive brushstrokes.


Living in an Island, What does it mean for you?


I feel this whole island. Maybe it’s me, maybe is that I feel an island too, but the consciousness of being in a land without a road that makes me flow to other lands is all within me. I know that you can leave it, but you have to make an extra effort, fly away, or cross the sea, and in this way you do not simply go away from your land, but you untie it, you leave it. You leave the strong and visceral Sicily. After all, for me it is a safe place, it is a root, it is recollection.


What do you think about the connection between art and nature?


At this moment, and for some years now, my work is closely linked to nature, I feel it is an essential link for me, I do not find the same predisposition to artistic creation in other areas. I find all the different artistic languages ​​interesting and fundamental, even if they are not linked to nature, but what makes me go in this direction is the strong feeling of belonging to the landscape, to the woods, to nature in general. A belonging that affects us all. The natural elements speak of us, of our ancestral balance. We come from this, and today, transformed by all the unnatural things that contaminate us, it seems to me that we are all starting to feel the call of our wild essence again.



Which is the art experience that you remember with pleasure?


I have had the opportunity several times to travel for my exhibitions, but in particular I remember with pleasure a wonderful artist’s residence in Abruzzo, inside a former convent, in a village in the mountains, Caramanico. A week in contact and in silence with many artists, listening and working together, in art and in daily life. I love my indispensable work in the studio, designing exhibitions, and traveling and seeing art, but stopping in a space like the RAMO residence, for a more or less short period, brings me home loaded with parts of me that seemed to be dormant or non-existent.


How did you live the beginning of the pandemic situation? How many pieces did you make during this time? 


I started living the pandemic with the deep desire that everything would end as soon as possible. We started talking about closures for a few days, then weeks, months, and now it is more than a year and little has changed, and I am still here saying now it passes, now it ends. Thank goodness I’m fine, my loved ones have always been fine, and I live in the countryside, I’m not forced into four walls, I’ve always had good air to breathe. The time in the studio has expanded, so much so that often I almost didn’t know how to manage it, as if it could suffocate me. I miss going out, seeing others, going to exhibitions, confronting myself. I was able to work a lot, but I didn’t even realize it, I always had the feeling that I was not getting anything done. Instead, at the end of the first lockdown, I was ready for my “Van Gogh I Colori delle Montagne (Van Gogh The Colors of the Mountains)” exhibition, within the “Van Gogh I Colori della Vita (Van Gogh The Colors of Life)” exhibition. I was invited by Marco Goldin, director of “Linea d’ombra” and curator of this important exhibition, to work on the theme of the mountains, dear to Van Gogh, for this prestigious and exciting exhibition.

I believe that this commitment has partly saved me from a possible desperation. I made twelve works on the theme of the Alpilles, mostly large canvases. Finally, after being postponed several times due to the pandemic, the exhibition: “Otto pittori e i colori della vita (Eight painters and the colors of life)” is open in Padova at the San Gaetano Center, from April 26th to June 6th. Being on display next to Vincent Van Gogh is definitely among the most unpredictable events I could expect in this life!


Do you have any advice for young artist?

I actually feel like a perfect young artist, always looking for advice and eternally insecure. Twenty-year-old artists… do not blame me! In any case, I advise to work, to carry on your artistic language with constancy, whether it is painting or otherwise, and to do it with sincerity, drawing inspiration from others if heard, but never copying. The road is winding, each artist finds his own. Sometimes you think about taking a path and then things happen that lead to something else, and you need to sharpen your intuition to follow the right route. I always tell that I started attending painting lessons to make sense of my days, and then good things happened that brought me this far. Which is not very far, but they brought me to find myself through painting, and this is the most important thing.


What do you think about the Artistic Scene of Sicily today? How do you see the future of art in the island?


The Sicilian art scene seems to me in excellent shape, I see a vast and excellent production, many artists and cultural operators with a lot to say, a great desire to do, to shine. A land like this, with such roots, with such a history can only gets these fruits. Unfortunately, at the moment, and for a long time, the possibilities granted by the economic and cultural system are few, they limit and oppress. I trust in tenacity, in things done well, little by little, even if few, and I trust in a future worthy of the past of this island.


What does Beauty mean for you?


Beauty is a game of balance. It is made up of elements that communicate with each other creating harmony. There is no standard. There is sincerity, cleanliness, authenticity, truth. So there is beauty, and it can be anywhere. In the straight or crooked line, in anger and joy, in the scratch and caress, in oneself for what one is, each one with the own shape, on the planet as it is. I believe that beauty has a lot to do with purity.

By Carla Ricevuto


Con Vincent. Come fosse mare (With Vincent. As If It Were Sea), oil on canvas, 150×180 cm, 2020.


Con Vincent. Nella cava (With Vincent In The Quarry), oil on canvas, 100×120 cm, 2020.


Dream up, oil on canvas, 150x200cm, 2018.


Festa (Party), oil on canvas, 150×200 cm, 2018.


La quinta stagione (The Fifth Season), oil on canvas, 130×125 cm, 2020.



Lovers II, oil on canvas on wood, 35×32 cm, 2018.


Paesaggio interno lordo (Gross Domestic landscape), oil on canvas, 256x280cm, 2017.


Respiro di notte (I Breathe at Night), oil on canvas, 85x75cm, 2019.


Siamo bosco (We are wood), oil on canvas, 150x200cm, 2020.


With love, oil on canvas, 150x200cm, 2018.