Bosco Sodi is known for his richly textured, vividly colored large-scale paintings. Sodi has discovered an emotive power within the essential crudeness of the materials that he uses to execute his paintings. Focusing on material exploration, the creative gesture, and the spiritual connection between the artist and his work, Sodi seeks to transcend conceptual barriers. The artist leaves many of his paintings untitled, with the intention of removing any predisposition or connection beyond the work’s immediate existence. The work itself becomes a memory and a relic symbolic of the artist’s conversation with the raw material that brought the painting into creation. Sodi’s influences range from l’art informel, looking to artists such as Antoni Tàpies and Jean Dubuffet, to master colorists such as Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, and the bright hues of his native heritage.
Following his recent solo exhibition ‘Totality’ at KÖNIG gallery (which he just joined), I invited Bosco to discuss the new possibilities in his creative process and talk more in-depth about his new body of work, which focuses on a cosmic concept.
You have recently joined KÖNIG gallery and you presented a new body of work in your recent solo show “Totality” – in the London venue. The installation was really interesting and fascinating, powerful forces at work recalling the laws that govern the cosmos, an ancient power that is both revelatory and creative – with the nine clay spheres, representing the nine planets of our solar system (as previously taught), surrounded by the cosmic paintings, a combination that gave the space an air of sacredness and liberation at the same time. Can you talk about the installation and more specifically about the dialogue between the sculptures and the painting?
Yes, I just joined the gallery last month. I am very happy to collaborate with them. I really like the energy of Johann. As you know, the London gallery is a very special and unique space in a basement, so I wanted to create a feeling of going down the stairs and finding this unique universe under the earth, a dialog between the earth and the clay spheres that, as you know, are solid and have a very special energy, and these paintings that I feel are cosmic in constant movement. I wanted to recreate the relationship between the planets and the cosmos, to create movement inside the gallery, a tension inside the space, as if you just arrived at a place where you can see the cosmos.
You always say that what you strive for most is to create a sense of totality, a link between the viewer’s own inner world and the world around them, as well as to nature itself. In your new “Cosmic” series you also take contemplation to the world of the infinite unknown, taking a vertical approach that now extends from the earth to the sky. Your research also looks at planets and the expanding cosmos they inhabit. As if they were lunar landscapes or unexplored territory on the surface of the planet, seen from a higher perspective (on so many different levels). Glue and natural fibers mixed with the tones of white and gold, and then black and blue, suggest the day and the night, the sight and the impossibility of seeing, the light and the shadow that illuminates and darkens our perception of things.
Can you tell me something more about this new series, what’s the message you are communicating with these new works?
I want to talk about the infinitum, about the unapproachable, the beauty of something that you cannot reach, so big, so far away, that you feel so humble, something bigger than life. That’s what I feel when I look at the starry night sky.
It helps me to understand that we are going to be here just for a moment and there is something that we as humans cannot understand, and that through our evolution we all have looked at the same sky, it is in our blood. This series of paintings is about that materiality-non-materiality.
I think that when you mix these paintings with the spheres, everything begins to make sense.. earth and the sky.
You tend to refer to a single color in general, but in this new body of work you incorporated numerous colors into a single composition. What is the meaning behind this decision? And, starting from the premise that randomness plays a key role in the genesis of your work, Is there any difference in the creative process that differentiates monochrome works from works with more than one main color present?
I began to do them by accident. When I was doing the total black paintings, by mistake I sprayed some gold, thinking it was black, and wow… I loved the results. So I started playing with them, adding other colors like white, gray, and blue, and then to create that feeling of erosion, I poured a lot of water on them and played with gravity, putting the painting up in horizontal and letting all the colors mix to create a pattern. There was a lot of movement in the process, much more action than with the other paintings.. it was a lot of fun. There is even more randomness involved in this series of paintings, more accidents, more non-control and a more unpredictable and unique outcome per se.
In a way that touches on the fundamental essence of the genesis, your work raises crucial questions that ultimately have always to do with the very nature of Nature itself: the creation – and even more so in a cosmic context. Your most recent works shows an intent to go deeper into time, almost all the way back to the very moment when all things have been created. This is interesting, especially thinking about when you work on the canvas while it is laid horizontally, you know, according to common sense when thinking about creation – from the Big Bang to God – we tend to direct our thoughts vertically, not horizontally, but you are well aware that creating does not mean trying to extend yourself so far upwards. You demonstrate once again that you are aware of the universe, the cyclical nature of day and night, the phases of the moon, the light of the sun that modify anything we can ever create in this world. And since you are receptive to the act of creation – which is an ongoing process where everything changes and nothing can be fundamentally and definitively created – you have synergy with the genesis of things. You are a creator because you actively generate circumstances for the casuality to finish your work, a creation where change is possible, and all possibilities are held within your creation itself.
What is your relationship with “the act of creating” in this sense and regarding the figure of “God”?
What does spirituality represent in your everyday life?
I really believe that entropy is the genesis of any creation. If you create the circumstances for entropy, you will find creation.
For me, this part is the most important and most fun of my whole process, trying to put together the circumstances to have something new and unique, but with as little intervention as possible from me. I mean, it should be in a non-dualistic way. I come from a Catholic family, but I don’t believe in God per se, I believe in this incredible world and universe that we live in and the complexity of it all. It really is a miracle, everything that surrounds us and how we should live in as much harmony as possible with it.
Spirituality is essential for me. It is about feeling connected to the world, the universe, and finding balance in a life that is a constant struggle. Spiritually, we just need to try to be connected…
Your works are so unique because they are generated by the encounter between the creative act and the characteristics of the individual materials, the place where they have been created, and all possible unexpected combinations, events and natural forces at work in this collaboration between you, the material, and nature.
Consider a scenario in which there are no limitations: Is there somewhere on the planet – or outside of It – where you would like to create and you’re really curious to see how your work will come out?
In an extremely dry place, like the desert, I would love to see one of the paintings dry very fast and see the rhythm of the cracks… I think they would be really strong and Catholic…
What are you working on at the moment?
I have now and until July 2022 a solo show at The Dallas Museum of Art (dma.org) “ Bosco Sodi: La fuerza del destino”.
Also Im opening a solo show at the Museum of The University of South Florida, USF Contemporary Art Museum.
Im doing a solo show in Venice from May to November 2022 ‘What goes around, comes around’ at the palazzo Vendramin Grimani at the invitation of the Fondazione dell’Albero d´Oro, curated by Dakin Hart and Daniela Ferrety.
I’m part of a group show at the Triennale in Milan from May to November 2022, where im going to show 12 big spheres and and sac paintings.
Endgame is the title of the collective exhibition hosted in Porto Ercole in the spaces of the Corsini Botanical Garden and on the initiative of its organization. The choice of this title, which intends to outline the multifaceted and intricate relationship between man and nature, is inspired by the play “Endgame” by Samuel Beckett, whose protagonists ruminate and “complain”, embittered by the state of their lifes during their last moments when everything is inevitably coming to an end. Our recent times, with the ongoing pandemic, has certainly highlighted the variable nature and ephemeral essence of the relationship between Humankind and the Earth. After a period of quarantine we have rediscovered less chaotic rhythms of life, skies and roads less busy, a more serene existence, more in harmony with the rhythm of Nature of which we, as humans, belong to. But we have a contradictory relationship with it: we admire and celebrate it and at the same time we destroy it for our own gain. An incongruent and unsustainable position. It is in the need for a radical change of views and actions that this exhibition intends to place itself as a spotlight on a very topical problem, the alternative being the risk of finding ourselves, with no way out, at the end of the game. The Endgame precisely. And it is this objective precisely the common matrix that guides the work of the various artists, who come together in Porto Ercole, from different continents and with different backgrounds, united here by their commitment to show us the spirit for a better future. Collaboration is at the heart of this project, with conversations unfolding between man and nature, artist and medium. A cross-cultural dialogue between Manuel Forte, Esteban Fuentes de Maria, Carlos Garcia, Fernando Ocaña and Bosco Sodi, from Mexico, Agnes, Desideria Corsini, Henryk Corsini, Luia Corsini Marzia Gandini, Charlie Masson, Pietro Pasolini, Malù dalla Piccola, Benedetto Pietromarchi, Tristano di Robilant, Baldassare Ruspoli and Alessandro Twombly, from Italy, Stijn Cole from Belgium and David Worthington from the United Kingdom, reveals the myriad ways in which man perceives himself in relation to Earth. Whereas Luia Corsini and Ocaña leave the garden, and the elements, to activate their works, Sodi introduces his native earth, Oaxacan-sourced clay stacks, into the Mediterranean landscape. Similarly, Alessandro Twombly works with clay — in an act, he explains, of consciousness. Tristano di Robilant, on the other hand, interprents Endgame through a nostalgic lens; his architectural sculpture, Shade Shelter, offers an opportunity for quiet contemplation.
Your artistic practice is an organic process that combines in the work an element of manipulation and the unpredictable effect of time and nature on matter, thus triggering a process of transformation which results in elements of randomness and non-controllability. It is a procedure influenced – as you have already widely emphasized – by the principles of the Japanese aesthetic philosophy Wabi-Sabi, founded on the acceptance of the transience of things, the acceptance of the imperfections of everyday life and the celebration of the simplicity of things. On the other hand, nature itself acts “naturally” in this sense, transformation, transience, ephemerality are the main element in the process of every action in the natural kingdom. The title of this exhibition is taken from Samuel Beckett’s “Endgame”, I recently read it again and there is a passage that makes me think of you:
” HAMM: Nature has forgotten us. / CLOV: There’s no more nature. / HAMM: No more nature! You exaggerate. / CLOV: In the vicinity. / HAMM: But we breathe, we change! We lose our hair, our teeth! Our bloom! Our ideals! / CLOV: Then she hasn’t forgotten us. “
Nature does not forget us, it is us forgetting it – as this exhibition points out – but you certainly don’t do that, basing your artistic practice on the unpredictable intervention of nature on matter. And it is precisely by thinking about your cubes of fired clay that this step also comes to me visually, calculating that their arrangement can refer to the proportions of the human body and at the same time creating an architecture which is reduced to minimum terms as if they were space and form at the same time. Each cube will bear the traces of the transformation process and wherever they are arranged, nature will not forget them, the same principle applies to humankind.
Can you tell me about the work on display in the botanical garden and its dialogue with space?
There’s no doubt, decay is a part of nature…
Something that I really like about placing the clay cubes in exterior is that nature never forgets about them… it immediately begins to affect them and change them.
The idea of this works is to work with something so abstract as clay and with the hands to do something so human as a cube and then with the cubes a column, something that can be compared to the human proportions. As they are solid and made with the hands and in them there are a lot of imperfections, (due to the creative process) I call it pre industrial minimalism.
Witnessing a transformation process, which is spontaneous and not manipulated, requires a certain degree of courage. It’s always a matter of risk and possibility when dealing with the unpredictable and in these fast times, when we got used to creating everything immediately at the expense of nature, under the illusion that the “everything” is always and only usable in its “final” form by the hand of man, the act of “courage” lies once and for all in the acceptance of the unknowability of the finished form, as everything remains unknown, and there’s no time for it to take shape that it’s already destined to change, in a potentially infinite cycle – as everything is in constant transformation, whether it is artificially or naturally. Your practice is centered precisely on embracing non-controllability, accidents during the path, the concept of process of the events. In your creative approach there is a realism which is creator and spectator at the same time, this does not speak to me only of forms and materials but also of the act of “living” itself, of matter and man. It talks to me about organic and biological evolution, about us and the space we live in and share with other forms of life. And, on another emotional level, these contrasts, marks and “scars” that nature and time carve on the material of your works, by association of ideas recall those same marks and “scars” that we experience every day simply by personally changing through experience in our intrinsic existence. Thus, on a contrasting side, since it is in the environment we live in that we experience – especially in the context of this exhibition – the marks with which nature shapes your works make me think of those that we as humans inflict to it, not respecting the environment that hosts us and putting the stability of our planet at great risk. How do you relate to the theme of mutation and the concepts of ephemerality and “acceptance”? I would like you to explain to me in your words what is your creative approach and its philosophical implications.
Change is a constant in life in the whole scene of the world and we have to learn to live with it and accept it as part of life, the same thing goes for my work, and its process, we have to accept the unpredictable, the accidents and the non-control, in order to obtain a unique and non repeatable outcome… In my way of thinking it should be the same way in life… it is what makes life unique and beautiful..
But yes definitely we have to find a balance with nature in order to live in more harmony with it, and to respect it.