FROM IDEA TO FINISHED WORK
by Carla Piro
At the origin of these imposing oil paintings on linen canvases is the idea: a dart of thought that is never fortuitious, but follows the logic of the artistic research carried out by Moreno Bondi. Initially the germ of the idea for the large work to come is noted down in pencil or indian ink in a small travel notebook, an inseperable companion – and a witness to inumerable projects and adventures of the mind.
It’s the opening phase, to establish the relative weights, feel the forms, imagine the dimensions. The “carnet” is full of quick sketches: hinges and linchpins – the structures needed to insert the marble into the painting, but also thoughts, formulas for colours, suggestions, the emotions which spring from the act of sculpture.
When the initial concept has aquired a basic form, it is then further defined in a sketch in oils (which, thanks to a wide range of support materials, may be tiny and without a frame), on which the finished work will be based. This oil sketch is by no means simply a miniature painting, but rather an idea of the monumental picture to come and at the same time a ”modus operandi” (which skilfully combines small elements capable of suggesting great size, the finite through the indefinite).
Moreno Bondi is well aware that everything depends on the global perception of the observer. Therefore he does not fix the details, but rather seeks a comprehensive vision. He avoids descriptive finishing touches and details; he believes what is more important is the atmosphere as conveyed by the relationship between light, shade and colours. He does not look for meticulous detailed brushstrokes as this is not a miniature, but a small picture conceived on a grand scale. The brushwork must be concise and economical: on a reduced surface a highly defined form loses its visual effectiveness. A few well-distributed dashes of colour must maximise the emotional effect and communicate the impact of what will be a substantial composition.
Formally the sketch may be different from the finished work: the details are not decisive and may change. But what remains fundamental is the structure, the weights, the proportions, the masses of colour, the relationship between light and shadow. Unlike the finished work, the sketch may be extremely small and the artist may experiment with unexpected and improvised support materials (copper, steel, wood, paper) which are unsuitable for large-scale projects. Copper is perfect because, as it is both rigid and heavy, no frame is necessary; furthermore, its smooth surface can suggest a canvas so large that the weave has become imperceptible.
In this phase it is possible to test out the dialogue between the two-dimensional plane and the three-dimensional form, trying various methods of joining the sculpture to the painting (hinges, cord, marquetry).
For structural reasons, nor will this phase in miniature be defined in detail, as it is not possible to work with the marble on such a small scale.
“What is essential here,” explains Moreno Bondi, “is not the final form, but rather the sensation of the statuary marble, the luminosity of the white stone, the emotion aroused by the material – because in the sketch even a small sliver of stone can evoke the finished statue.”