During my first years at the Academy, I had the opportunity to work as Anna Boghiguian’s assistant and to work with her on the works for her exhibition in the Manica Lunga, at Castello di Rivoli. In the end, this experience left a much more lasting impression on me than I had imagined at the time. I got to know the visceral poetry of a painter and Anna taught me to love the existences of human beings. Whether they have been saints, mediocrities or bandits, they all suddenly become a pure ‘surface of images’. More generally, her work allowed me to perceive an inner structure of the humanity through the shaping and cutting out of papers. The act of cutting out papers seemed to me to be a struggle that then led to the fragile magnificence of her finished work.
Anna Boghiguian, who taught me without me noticing, arrived at Castello di Rivoli in the summer. I used to reach her from Porta Palazzo, a neighborhood in Turin, sometime by car, sometimes by bicycle, depending on our daily commitments. She stayed in a large flat, near the train station, and below the house she had a pastry shop where all the pastry chefs loved her. We use to meet early in the morning, it was summer and her house had become an improvised and very large artist studio. The standard furniture of a rented house was adorned and filled with precious and beautiful objects which changed their positions every day. They all came out of her large suitcases, which were themselves containers from all over the world. Right from the start, I began to love her, she was kind to me. Early in the morning she was already drawing while having breakfast, and at lunchtime she often offered me the tortelli she had bought in a pasta factory near by the Church of the Great Mother. Some days we went around Turin looking for the best materials we could find for her work, such as sharp dressmaker’s scissors, pigments and beeswax. On car journeys, if announcers‘ voices caught my attention, she would remind me that I had a certain obsession with the radio. She was right! Once, she told me that she would have loved to go on a trip. Anna always spoke very seriously, and at the last minute she departed for her short travel. We had a week’s holiday during the summer break, so she decided to visit Tblisi. With her surprising return came lots of pink bags full of delicacies, and she was happy to be back. And here a few things happened that impressed me. The first was that she decided to visit my first exhibition at the Tile Project in Milan, so she and I got in the car and drove off. It was a fun and cheerful day in which we also visited the Triennale and some ice-cream shops.
Leaving Milan at sunset, the horizon widens as far as the eye can see in all directions, only in the distance can you see the Alpine arc. The straight line is interrupted by other roads joining small villages. The atmosphere in the vehicle was light-hearted and pleasant and on the way back to Turin I told her that my mother had grown up with a pet monkey in the house. A gypsy man brought it to my grandfather, grandfather, its name was Billy. Mum often told me about Billy in Grandma’s kitchen, wearing hats and little red dresses that Grandma had sewn herself. Anna never stopped asking me questions about the monkey and my family in general.
Then one day she found interesting that I had a friend who was a beekeeper in the mountains and decided to use her wax for some encaustic drawings.
It was around the middle of September when she changed house and neighborhood: the exhibition was about to open and she was leaving Turin. She asked me to accompany her once more to the pastry shop below the old house. She wanted to give the owners an invitation to her exhibition in person. On the day of the opening, she had a lot of women around her, she was holding a little lemon in her hand, and I remember feeling proud of her.
(Text Alice Visentin, translation Giulia Menegale, voice Alessia Giorda)