Maurizio Bonfanti (Bergamo 1952 - )


Son of painter Angelo Bonfanti, Maurizio Bonfanti attended Bergamo's Liceo Artistico and studied etching at the Accademia di Belle Arti in the same city. Though he enrolled to study modern literature at Milan's Universita Statale, in 1973 he left that course of study to dedicate himself to the arts.

From 1976 to 1983, Bonfanti taught drawing and visual communications at a technical school in Bergamo. He spent the decade of the 1970's working exclusively on etching, but then moved on to painting. He has produced a number of series dealing in particular with religious themes, and experimenting with various techniques to render the human form, landscapes, and cityscapes.

His paintings have been exhibited in personal and collective exhibitions throughout Italy and in Montecarlo, France, Spain, and the USA since 1978. Bonfanti has also participated in two prestigious exhibitions at the Contemporary Art Centre Schalkwijk in Utrecht and held major exhibitions in Lineart, Gend, Belgium, and Holland. Most recently, he was also commissioned to create pieces for the Shoah Memorial to remember the victims of the Second World War.

Bonfanti says of his work, "Though we're offended by intolerance and discrimination in any form and abhor injustice that debases human dignity while embracing peace, our words and actions do not always correspond in our daily lives. (...) Art seems to have lost its critical voice and is increasingly subject to a set of values determined by the rules of the market.
If I were forced to stop dreaming and ponder reality with lucid rationality and objectivity, the image of Man I've been depicting who is injured and under attack would have to be replaced by a surface covered solely with deep, silent wounds.

By representing the human figure naked and exposed, I declare its supremacy; by not including the subject's face, I highlight his or her body language. I give them an awareness with theatrical poses, and the subjects are acted on, so the real protagonist is left free to participate in the staging. Since the face is an identifier an the intensity of an expression or the set of a mouth can hint at a condition or emotional state, when the face is hidden, the subject's condition or emotional state is inferred from the pose of the body, whether completely visible or incomplete. The pose of the body leaves the observer free to imagine the contours and face.

The surface of the paper on which I create my nudes suffers a series of attacks, which are in integral part of the expressive language of my works. I try to give substance to a smooth and neutral surface, and make it undergo a deterioration alongside the image, which is also intentionally eroded and scratched. The "wounded" paper is then glued to the canvas, creating the image of a body which seems to re-emerge from the past, but carries with it the fragility and energy of contemporary man."

Bonfanti places his human figures in the center of his compositions, alone and naked, often surrounded by darkness and faceless. His subjects are rendered standing, sitting, or crouching, but regardless in the spotlight and at the center of the artist's attention where they can be best seen and the fragile yet perfect matter from which man is made reflected upon. The body is presented as a gift, a knot which absorbs more and more the dense taciturn mixture of the surrounding space as it unravels.

The most immediate and instinctive response to Bonfanti's works is that the figures' positions in the space of the picture transmit a sense of uneasiness, as their placement is always a bit off and never being completely present. Portions of the body are often missing or are outside the composition, leaving the space to compress them in isolation. Yet the compositions do not express of solitude as much as the wish to be alone. Observers are led to reflect on solitude as a choice or as a punishment.

Bonfanti's figures also seen to be in a un-identifiable non-place: portions of the body seem to have been absorbed by the surrounding vacuum as depicted through a dramatic use of chiaroscuro.

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