Interview with Caterina Crepax

Freedom, passion and artistic spirit

We met her in Milan on the occasion of the exhibition of some of her works in the showroom of Lisa Corti, the furnishing sector fabric designer, for whom she expressly created a paper dress. This is the story of Caterina Crepax

CaterinaCrepaxThe architect and stage designer Caterina Crepax  herself – the daughter of the famous comic-strip writer Guido Crepax – tells us how her life has changed over the years, both personally and professionally.

In a handful of years  Caterina Crepax has carried out a lot of activities, yet specifically one of them was a real turning point and marked a watershed between her professional adolescence and her maturity: «In recent years together with my brothers, with whom I am currently closely cooperating and sharing responsibilities, hurts and highs, I have mainly managed my father’s work; in particular, the 2008 exhibition on Valentina in Milan represented the start of a real personal change of course.

After years of work as an architect, during that exhibition that I personally curated and followed, I felt that I had finalized a complete work: the huge 1,200 m2 house telling Valentina’s story, where I also added my passion for paper, was a very important step. Besides the satisfaction for reaching a complex goal, since then my work as an artist changed, as I started deploying my skills as a stage designer more than as a sculptor». As a matter of fact, over the last few years Caterina’s works have started “talking” and telling stories: while her paper art was more expressed in the creation of separate objects, her artworks are now being designed as part of the space surrounding them since their initial conception and the beautiful paper dresses generate stories, which are then animated into real characters.

Stories living in “emptied chrysalises”

The huge stage represented by Valentina’s house is like a paper stage, as Caterina wished in her dreams as a young artist. It is obtained thanks to the exhibition set to celebrate the famous Guido Crepax and represents a new way of conceiving one’s work with paper: «In the past I used to work starting from my individual inspiration only and my exhibitions were often a collection of artworks without a clear underlying theme. After the exhibition on Valentina, instead, I started focusing more on specific topics, as if there were stories that could originate and connect all of my works». And this is exactly the case: Caterina’s works of art are ethereal and light and evoke the presence of characters, which are visible through the outline of a face or an arm and are conceived based on a new idea of the narration. Living dresses, also expressed through the light coming from the inside and enabling us to perceive details. Living dresses – living anywhere and always travelling to new shows and exhibitions.

But where does inspiration come from? «It comes from thousand different things. I am an acute observer; I watch people and anything can be of inspiration: the balcony of a house, a leaf eaten by animals that leave holes in it that look like decorations. I use my imagination in everything, also in the choice materials, like till receipts, crushed paper, pierced edges pierced borders of computer tabulated data sheets o remaining paper from printing works, pleated paper used for cakes, which are cut and assembled taking on a natural shape, as if they were sea sponges».

Exhibitions, projects, contacts...

Several works have been created over the years and several projects are coming up. To name but just a few, in 2010 an exhibition of 12 torsos was held in Genoa, Leghorn and also Milan in collaboration with Nicoletta Cicalò: «De Bustibus». In 2013 Caterina participated in an exhibition on paper in Zpfendorf (Amsterdam, Holland) at the Coda Museum, with artists coming from all over the world (Japan, Nordic countries, America) and creating sculptures or installations from paper. She has been recently contacted also by the European Union to take part in a major communication campaign on recycling. But this is not the end. She can furthermore boast several collaborations also in the luxury sector: for example, she created a dress with the wallpaper of Roberto Cavalli home line at the Furniture Fair in Milan  and collaborated with the Larusmiani haute couture boutique in via Montenapoleone for set design and shop windows with paper dresses.

The two real new developments of the last few years
Yet the real new development of the last few years is represented by the courses Caterina has been holding at the European Design Institute, Naba and the Creative Academy (i.e. a post-graduate course organised by the Richemont group and sponsored by leading fashion brands): «the students, who will then work in the luxury field as jewels or watches designers, come from several parts of the world (Iran, Singapore, China, Japan, France) and it is really interesting for me to have an exchange of views and ideas with different countries and situations. We also collaborated with Mont Blanc and the Van Cliff & Arpels jewels manufacturer – together with the students we have created paper prototypes with exciting results for all: I always tell the students that inspiration must stem from the world surrounding us and not from fashion magazines». As regards young people, there is a second new development: Caterina has been working for two years with her two assistants Emanuele Bestetti and Ilaria Berardi, who trained at Naba as stage designers and whom she met on the occasion of the course on paper costumes for the opera performance “La Traviata”. Talking about Caterina, Emanuele says: «Exactly like her sculptures reveal a burning passion, the same passion and artistic spirit also characterize my relation with her. Friendship is the most important thing she conveyed to me. Starting from this feeling you learn more than a profession, you learn how to live. To live with and within art».