The limitless, windswept vistas of the African landscape inspire the art and imagination of Italian artist Cristina Micheletti. Born and raised in Nigeria, where her father was in business, Micheletti became enamored of the colors and graphic beauty of that land at an early age.
"Even at three or four I was enchanted with the sense of distance, the vastness of the skies and the sinuous curves of the Niger River," she recalls.
"I could stare for hours out over the horizon and watch as it disappeared in the frequent sandstorms. It looked to me like the end of the world. Today I recognize those landscapes of my childhood in my paintings. They continue to influence my art, even my still lifes. They are like memories of Africa."
Demonstrating an early talent for art, Micheletti eventually moved to her parents' native Italy at the age of 11 to begin her academic and artistic studies. She earned her Diploma in Art from the Liceo Artistico Ugo Foscolo High School in Vercelli, Italy in 1979, studied sculpture and clay modeling at the Fine Arts Institute, also in Vercelli, and eventually earned a Master Painter Degree from the Albertine Fine Arts Academy in Turin in 1985.
After completing her studies, she worked as a designer for the Italian textile company Miroglio, in Dusseldorf Germany. Micheletti taught experimental artistic activities in public primary schools, and taught drawing and painting at the Liceo Artistico Ugo Foscolo of Vercelli.
She successfully integrated meditation and visualization techniques into standard teaching practices.
In addition to her fine art painting and sculpting in terra cotta, Micheletti is a trompe l'oeil muralist, and has led workshops in painting and meditation in Europe and the US. Micheletti has exhibited her art in Italy, Germany and the US.
"I admire expressionism, and I am always enchanted by Gustav Klimt and visionaries like Chagall. I especially love African sculpture with its ceremonial and utilitarian aspects.
I think of myself as a primal painter who does not rely on the usual artistic schemes or academic influences.
Each painting represents a different world, a different situation, underlining the desire of the artist not to be classified under any specific style or trend.
"Feeling free in front of a white sheet of paper or blank canvas means everything to me."
"Immaginario e reale (imaginary and real) is how I like to describe my artistic expression."
With their elegant balance of line and tonality, and the refined beauty of their soft shades and palette of natural colors, Micheletti's paintings invite a feeling of peace and spiritual awakening to the beauty of our relationship with the natural world. This sense of relationship is expressed in part in her 20-year study of the macrobiotic vision of life.
In 1994, the artist adopted the Sanskrit name of Suravi, which she often adds to the signature of her work. The artist divides her time between Tuscany and California's Central Coast, drawn to the natural beauty and rich greens and golds of both regions' expansive landscapes, which she says are reminiscent of the landscape of her childhood.
"I have always been encouraged and fascinated by different realities," Micheletti adds, "and when I was very young, I developed a strong sense of respect for nature and people of all cultures."
"What I want in my art is to let my soul talk," she says. "I see myself as a kind of spiritual vagabond, and my artwork as a voyage that we are all going through. Even though some of my paintings seem very still, when you look deeper, you can feel the calmness but aliveness of flowing movement."
"All my paintings express where I am in the moment. They are like a meditation about my search on a spiritual journey."