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Nested at the heart of the Lombardy region, Italy or “Bel Paese” – meaning beautiful country in Italian – the city of Monza has witnessed countless economic, societal and cultural evolutions. This shaped a rich heritage with inspiring art forms running through its streets and monuments, waiting to be discovered.

We meet with Roberta Bissoli, an Italian Money Artist, who observes and experiments the inter-action between materials, studying the resulting reactions to push the boundaries of her artistic practice.
Roberta’s innate appeal to the arts is inseparable from her own personality.

“I like to think that my artistic career was born with me, it means that this artistic soul has always been by my side, it has always walked by my side even if I didn’t accept it.”

An intuition she had already identified back in her university days, studying economics, then throughout her financial and accounting career. That artistic instinct never left her mind, patiently waiting for a moment to break free from the rules and deadlines, the schematics and inflexibility of her work.

“My life led me to do economic studies, and to do a financial accounting job (…) this has always clashed with my artistic soul, this artistic soul manifested itself more and more every day. But, one day I decided to break the mould and I finally decided to embrace an artistic career and leave my soul free to manifest itself.”

Roberta entered the art world with a fresh mindset, non-conformist and ready to explore the practices to find her own voice. Roberta followed a not so classical artistic path, as a free spirit who embraces the practice of the arts after being held for too long.

“Classical art does not belong to me, you will never see me paint classically or figuratively, I want to get out of the canvas, I want to go beyond, look beyond appearances. I started with white pastes (at first, I didn’t accept colours) then I added some colour (red, black), then some material (wood and plastic material to model) then I landed on the dollars collection that fascinates and amazes everyone.”

Working her way towards Money Art, Roberta faced a cold reception, being one of the pioneers in this discreet style. Nevertheless, Roberta persisted in the practice of art with US banknotes, challenging herself through varied techniques and experiences, in an endless resolution, waiting for the art world to recognise art made with money as an authentic movement. “It was hard at the beginning because not many believed in this type of art with dollars, many still today do not consider it art. Obviously I don’t think like that, the meaning of ART as per vocabulary is: ‘that human activity aimed at creating works to which an aesthetic value is recognised, by means of materials, shapes, colours, words or sounds’. The continuous research of materials and the continuous experimentation in the creation of new artworks classifies the dollars art, as an artistic movement.”

“Ephemeral World” | © Roberta Bissoli

In Roberta’s eyes, the response she receives from the public on her Money Artworks is in either of two macro categories. The first faction adverse to the idea of art made with banknotes “Those who say this is not art”. While the other group welcomes the practice with great interest “The ones that say WOW but are they real dollars? It’s incredible I didn’t think you could make art like this! Your artworks are exceptional and amazing. Congrats, I want it!!”, smiling, she continues “I prefer the second category”.

Abstract, Free And Bold

When we asked Roberta about her artistic style and if she identifies herself within a specific artistic movement, she comments: “My artistic style is objectively abstract, close to POP ART even if I like to identify it as: MY UNCONVENTIONAL ART.

In Roberta’s artwork, an enduring research and study of materials is predominant, the material positioning at the centre of her works, the true protagonist, highlighted by the use of paint, colours of secondary materials.

“The ‘matter’ is in the foreground and is the real protagonist. Painting and colour are at the service of the matter, it is the matter itself that shapes, that colours and that gives ‘thickness’ to the artwork, giving three-dimensionality to the canvas; involving the senses: sight, touch, smell and above all ‘excitement’ the observer.”

The encounter between Roberta’s artworks and the observer feels like an experimental event, senses captivated by an outburst of information.

“Observing these artworks, it is possible to understand how matter gives form to an abstract and intangible world, the world of the soul, of the dream, of sound, of memory. My purpose is to give matter to the intangible; to give body to what does not have a body; to reveal something that cannot be seen with the eyes but only through the soul. My artworks are interactive with the observer, they are three-dimensional, everything seems to want to get out of the canvas, they want to meet you, you can simply look at them, or you can touch them, if you illuminate them with the right light they will reveal secrets, if you go nearest, you can scent their smell.”

“Lettera Ai Corinzi” | © Roberta Bissoli

Furthermore, Roberta reveals: “My art is able to change the atmosphere of a space, to highlight a detail: ILLUMINATE ME and the magic will take shape. Light is my best friend: above all when it finds shape by breaking into my artworks.”

Sparks That Ignited The Artistic Soul

Roberta highlights as influence and artistic inspiration moments in her life, that led to the style and techniques applied in her practice, the first spark being the culture ever present in her birth country.

“As you know Italy offers a lot from a cultural point of view. The beauty of the churches with their architecture, their paintings and their artistic stained-glass windows, the show of the light that breaks in a coloured glass and projects the light into the nave of the Church has always fascinated me”

Roberta then explored making stained-glass windows, with classic and tiffany techniques, a course that fascinated and enchanted her. Until the next spark light up her artistic soul. “One day I went to the Guggenheim in New York and there was a wonderful installation by James Turrell…. Coloured lights that followed one another in a graceful, wonderful and relaxed dance … It was amazing and I felt in love with that kind of art! From that moment I abandoned classical art and embraced Modern and Contemporary art, artists like James Turrell, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, Salvador Dalí have become my great inspirers.”

A Travel Of Experiences

Roberta has elected the use of banknotes for her continuing artistic practice, in compositions applied on canvas, along with acrylic colour, transparent and photosensitive colours.

“Seeing the world from another perspective… that’s the beauty of art! Different and contrasting visions, sometimes irreverent. Simple $1 banknotes relaunch a powerful message: a phrase from Anne Frank, the letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians, an irreverent word or, a phrase taken from the Little Prince: What is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Playing with the economic concept of money and the meaning of what is essential, Roberta invites the observer to look at her artworks under regular then ultraviolet light, revealing messages hidden and daring the currency’s widely accepted powerful societal position.

“It is just so often the essential is hidden from view, in order to read the message, it is necessary to illuminate the work with ultraviolet light and the hidden sentence will appear Messages so powerful that they can destroy the ‘god of money’ with a flash of light.”

Further to that, the choice of the US One Dollar bill met specific criteria.

“I work exclusively with 1$ bill because it’s beautiful to look at, it’s practical to work with, it’s a symbol of the economy, it’s known all over the world and it’s extremely fascinating. Dollars contain a cotton fibre and do not break when handled, they are practically indestructible.”

Roberta pauses for a moment and invites us to reflect.

“Have you noticed how usually the rarer things are the more desired and precious? On the contrary in the case of dollars, one small 1$ bill alone is worth little but all together make a great fortune. These small bills only become valuable when they are together. Furthermore, as in the philosophy of Pop Art, art has the ability to raise a common object to an artwork, so a simple $1 banknote in common use becomes part of an artwork.”

“Think Free, Nothing Is Impossible” | © Roberta Bissoli

The Art Of Lingering And Looking Beyond

Contemplative, Roberta shared a message about her Money Art practice, extract from a presentation by Art Curator Serena Uberti:

“For Roberta Bissoli, giving substance to the abstract is the primary meaning of being an artist. Colours, canvas, textures, textures, authentic $ 1 bills combine to create a material base for messages that are to be sought in a different light. Radiated with ultraviolet light, the canvases reveal words and phrases that tell the artist’s point of view: some are universal messages, others address a specific mood, still others provoke with irony. Roberta’s works are as determined as she is, the very ‘hiding’ of the messages is part of an evident artistic process. Paradoxes, different levels of reading are part of the whole reality that surrounds us, a constant complexity, which is enough to want to read to appreciate without fear. To underline the importance of willpower in the quest to overcome appearances, it is necessary to take time to explore the works of Roberta Bissoli. You have to decide to take a break from the daily rush, ‘arm yourself’ with a flash light and scroll through the works with curiosity and tranquillity to be able to read the messages. The art of lingering and looking beyond.”

Roberta shared her vision concerning the Money Art movement and its evolution:

“The art of banknotes has a hard time establishing itself in galleries and among collectors. When I started in 2013, I felt pioneering and frustrated at the same time, but 10 years later I discovered an artistic movement that has made banknotes its creed. I am happy to know that in the world I am not alone in working with banknotes, every artist with his technique and his favourite banknote and I am grateful to Banknote Art Concept for letting me know this reality. It’s a movement that moves slowly but it’s appearing more and more forcefully in the world of art, or at least I hope so. In a world that is quickly moving towards technology and electronic money who knows that in the next few years even banknotes could themselves be art-works … pieces of art incorporated into works of art. They will be memories for posterity!”

Be inspired

Explore ROBERTA BISSOLI’s Featured Gallery