Monday, 2 September 2013

Beyond Boundaries

“... The call to go on a journey takes the form of a loss, an error, a wound...we are being summoned to make a transition. It will always mean leaving something behind... The paradox here is that loss is a path to gain.” This statement by David Richo, psychotherapist, university teacher and author, could well have been Bruno Catalano’s keystone for the creation of his thought-provoking sculptures.

Bruno Catalano is a French artist born in Morocco and now living in Marseille, who has travelled widely as a sailor, which has given him the experience of constantly moving from one place to another. Besides, and as he states, having left Morocco when he was twelve years old, made him feel that a part of him had been gone never to return. And this becomes quite obvious in his work.

His bronze statues, gathered in a series under the general title of “Travellers”, depict “incomplete” bodies, from which vital parts are missing as if they had been dropped on their owners’ hasty journeys to unknown and compelling destinations. Fittingly, these figures always carry a suitcase or a bag, probably as a statement of what they mean to Catalano, who says that “the meaning can be different for everyone, but to him the sculptures represent a world citizen”.

In fact, his sculptures are so remarkable, strong and uncommon that viewers are irresistibly drawn to them and cannot help asking themselves questions. One of the galleries where his art pieces are exhibited says that “his works reveal his desire to capture the viewer’s attention while stamping his unique mark on the subject... These astonishing works, with their dashed bodies and the determined lack of volume, invite the viewer to mentally reconstitute its limits. ...Through his statuary, he re-enacts the adventure of the human species, always between two riverbanks, repelling all borders.”

Catalano’s figures always lack mid sections and seem to be eerily suspended in the air, by means of the use of a technique which allowed the artist, who was clearly inspired by great modern masters of sculpture, such as Rodin or Dali, to introduce the astonishing effect of an improbable fourth dimension to his art pieces: the void. This particularity adds a surrealistic feature to his work and offers viewers different aspects which change according to their position in relation to the statues.

Furthermore, this emptiness in the body of Catalano’s statues allows their background to, somehow, fill in the gap and become part of the body, as if making a statement about where they are. In a way, we could say that, just like Rob Mulholland’s mirrored sculptures – dealt with in a previous post – melt into their surroundings, Catalano’s works have their “emptiness” filled by the environment, therefore embodying it and going beyond boundaries.

In spite of the countless questions viewers may ask themselves as they look at his work, Catalano’s astonishing sculptures actually seem to state the perfect balance of our imperfect human condition as travellers in our journey through life, along which we inevitably keep on losing something to make room for what we also gain.

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