Show surveys Gustavo Bonevardi's last fifteen years of paintings, works on paper and sculpture

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Show surveys Gustavo Bonevardi's last fifteen years of paintings, works on paper and sculpture
Gustavo Bonevardi, Untitled, 2020, Acrylic and charcoal on panel, 48 x 48 inches.

NEW CANAAN, CONN.- Heather Gaudio Fine Art is presenting Gustavo Bonevardi: A Structured Survey, his first exhibition at the gallery. The show surveys the artist’s last fifteen years of paintings, works on paper and sculpture and will be on view May 6th-June 10th, 2023. The public is invited to attend an opening reception on Saturday May 13th, 4-6pm.

Trained as an architect, Bonevardi’s formal investigations are multifaceted, working in painting, drawing, sculpture, and site-specific installations. Although his artistic lineage is linked to the legacy of the Escuela del Sur, (or School of the South, founded by constructivist modernist Joaquín Torres García), Bonevardi’s visual language is decidedly his own. Working with paper, stone, clay, wood, and other materials, Bonevardi’s process is one of discovery. He embraces the exploration of a complex world, vacillating his artistic impulses between two and three dimensions. Presented in series, his works are visual suggestions of memories, things past, and dualities. The visible and hidden; the finished and unfinished; the finite and infinite; and the relationship between positive and negative spaces are some of the concepts he explores.

Among the works in the exhibition are Bonevardi’s intimately-scaled sculptures which he executed in two distinct series. The carved black African pyrophylite blocks are reminiscent of archaeological structures, ritualistic stones or inscribed monoliths that belonged to archaic societies or ancient civilizations. In these works, rough areas contrast with highly-polished surfaces that are marked with lines, areas of azure blue, or engraved with tightly packed letters forming distinct patterns. Incised in shallow relief, these randomly placed tiny letters appear to be characteristic of an enigmatic code. They create simple visual writings with no specific narratives or meaning. The artist chooses to keep these works untitled, allowing them to speak for themselves and leaving the viewer to surmise or decipher their forms and meaning. Bonevardi states he inscribes the letters subconsciously, the markings coming to him as thoughts from poetry or text appearing in his head as he works in his studio during the quiet hours of the night. Some of these sculptures have modular shapes that can be moved and reassembled into new configurations, allowing for a quasi-playful interaction with the viewer. These synergies can also occur in his other sculpture series made of wood with polymer clay. They too have whimsical aspects tethered to modernist or primitive shapes which evoke childhood memories.

The suggestions of shifting planes are translated to Bonevardi’s two-dimensional paintings which are made on panel. Painted with flat geometric shapes in a reduced palette of non-descriptive colors, these works act more as ideograms. Bonevardi reveals his architectural training by delineating the forms and rendering structure to the composition with self-assured drawn charcoal lines. These provide a framework to the largely unoccupied spaces left bare, making them appear to be constructions in the making or mechanisms that form part of a larger whole. Simplified graphic elements, angular and curvilinear shapes seemingly float against an open surface -- there is no hint of shading, perspective, or depth in the composition. The artist subverts this formalist celebration of flatness, however, by continuing the painted shapes and articulated lines around the edge of the panels. He further invites the notion of the space beyond the picture plane by piercing a singular tiny pinhole somewhere in the composition. In almost tromp l’oeil fashion, these dots can appear to be points drawn in charcoal, extending the suggestion of the visible and invisible. Other works in this schematic series express a structured order through concealed and exposed lines and geometric forms. The interplay between them is conveyed through veiled layers of acrylic in whites and earth tones that cover the entire surface.

The show also features drawings on paper that expand Bonevardi’s use of lettering. As with the black stone sculptures, these alphabetical markings do not act as linguistic signifiers, rather, almost like whispers, they create their own visual language emphasizing geometric forms, negative spaces, and movement. In some instances, the sheets of paper seem randomly mounted onto a painted framed panel, the letter markings tying their structural relations by shading the sheets’ outlines or rendering an overall geometric composition. Other more orderly presented sheets form a grid, the faintly draw letters offering ghost-like imagery of curved or rectilinear forms and voids.

Bonevardi is also known for working in urban, large-scale projects, the most famous of which is Tribute in Light. Created in collaboration with John Bennett, among others, this memorial project annually marks the Manhattan skyline on the 11th of September, with twin beams of light projected into the night sky.

Born and raised in New York, Bonevardi earned a master’s degree in architecture from Princeton University. He has been the recipient of numerous awards and his prolific artistic career consists of many solo and group exhibitions. His works have also been extensively written about and he has also held several teaching positions. The artist lives and works in New York.

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