I catch up with Anna early in the afternoon on a Sunday at L’Ov Cafe in Viale Premuda, with the intention of having a chat over a glass of wine. She’s just arrived from London and already warned me that she’s only staying in Milan for two days for a photo shoot, catching up with life, and briefly touching base with family. She’s arrived wearing a New York Yankees baseball cap from New Era (of which she is an avid collector) and her blue jeans and sneakers are speckled with paint. She’s half way between “trash street style” and casual. A passing observer might think she doesn’t follow current styles, but Anna does not care for traditional style rules. Indeed, she claims to shy away and be a stranger to this world, though she is still aware of the close connection that exists between art and fashion. We sit down and finally start talking.
Hi Anna, first of all, thank you very much for agreeing to do this interview, and we congratulate you on your artistic career. We are excited for the opportunity to ask some personal questions and to get your views on our beloved city.
The first question: Who is Anna Laurini?
I’d like to start from my origins, in a country in the belt of Milan where I spent my childhood and early adolescence, prior to hearing the lure of the city. I needed the noise, the energy, the stimulus of the metropolis, so I started frequenting the city of Milan. I was immediately drawn to the area of Piazza Vetra and the canals because they kept leading me back to Porta Genova, where I would catch up with my friends. I start to feel inspired in this area, and my mind was telling me unequivocally that art was my calling.
How did you get your education in the arts?
I attended Central Saint Martins in London and the FIT in New York, but you should understand that my artistic career turned out very differently to the classic academic world: my ideal production studio is the street. This is how my first great idea and work “Omnia” – the profile of the woman with the red lips – came to be. With Cubist inspirations (particularly from Picasso= I created this image of women which would become the foucs and the central theme of my art.
What was your main reference?
This figure became such a sharp image in my mind. I decided to start doing work on canvas with a brush, using mainly black and red for the lips as the basic colors. I added electric blue to it later, and then it became my distinctive color from which I also took my stage name ‘Annalauriniblue’. I began to fill the streets of various international cities with my tags, the woman’s profile. I tried to stand out from the crowd preferring to use brushes rather than spray cans.
When and how did you earn your international reputation?
I live out of a suitcase and am always on the move, even when I arrived in Australia in Melbourne, I was like this. Years went by and my works began to multiply. People began asking questions about this mysterious artist. Eventually, I came to earn an international reputation thanks to the recognition of my work, which was scattered in different neighborhoods of the most important cities. I was contacted by fashion brands and galleries for a collaborations, but to be honest, I have never felt particularly attached to these projects.
What are your current projects?
I am currently working with ‘Lights of Soho’ in London. I like the young and active environment, and interacting with people, and I love going down that road of dedicating myself fully to live painting in the style of Andy Warhol. I am a firm supporter of Keith Haring’s philosophy that art must be made for the common people.
Are you satisfied with your job? What are your plans for the future?
Absolutely. When your work and your passion are the same thing, it’s the perfect marriage. As usual, I have so many plans for the future. I will return to New York for a period but I am really looking forward to a solo exhibition in Milan and a return to my roots.
Let’s talk about Milan. What are your favorite places here for:
Breakfast: My father used to take me to Marchesi in Corso Magenta right in front of Palazzo Litta where he worked. Their pastries have a special place in my heart.
Lunch and Dinner: For lunch and dinner one of my favorite places in the Cantina della Vetra and Hostaria Borromei. I love their simple and classic Milanese cooking. For this kind of cuisine, I always go traditional.
Drinks: For after-dinner drinks definitely Mag Cafè or Luca e Andrea (the coolest spots in Navigli).
If a friend who has never been to Milan arrived in this city, what would you they have to absolutely see?
I recommend that all of my friends visiting town take a trip down to the vintage markets in Navigli. I often buy books here which I then paint on. You can always find interesting things there.
What is your favorite hidden corner of Milan?
My secret spot? La Vigna di Leonardo is for me a small hidden Garden of Eden.
Cosmopolitan, brilliant and innovative, Anna is all of this and more. She is just one of many talented Italians living abroad who believes in the possibility of returning to Italy to become an agent of change which the city necessarily needs. Towards the end of the meeting, she gets a message. Her flight to London is canceled due to a strike. Coincidence? I think not…