Guido Bonacci: My art is meant to bring joy not sorrow
I create toy-worlds which I never part withNadia Ilieva
The scenography is something that inspires me most, and it poses the most challenges to me as well, Italian artist Guido Bonacci says in an interview to Europost.
Mr Bonacci, art experts define your style as “eclectic and versatile, in the line of Leonardo”. How would you define yourself, as a scenographer, designer or artist? What is prevailing?
Maybe scenography is something that inspires me most, and it poses the most challenges to me as well. I had the chance to stage different plays, designing costumes and finalising all the details. I have also designed sets for several musicals, recreating their atmosphere, which gives me real pleasure. Scenography is also part of my constructions - the castles, the stilt houses. These are again part of set design but in miniature. I would say that I have this inclination, almost a passion, to make small things, recreating a whole world with them.
How did you start? You have another profession - you are an archaeologist.
Yes, I started my career as an archaeologist. That's what I studied. I had a small shop on Elba Island where I sold art objects. However, during my younger years, my grandfather and my uncle acquainted me with all kinds of materials and taught me how to combine them to make a work of art. This is something infinite, something that never ends, and I don't want it to end. That is why I love to use the word “game”. I am creating toy-worlds. Actually, I have never sold anything I created. When I make an object, I invest so much time and patience in it that after it is made I cannot part with it. This is one of my traits. Besides, I am a little shy as a creator. During the performances I staged on Elba Island there were 120 people on stage, but I did not dare to get on it.
Your exhibition in Sofia, which was such a pleasure to explore, exudes some very positive energy, there is some kind of a tease, everything is so colourful. Is this the message that you send to the audience?
Yes, I don't like sad things. I believe that art has to bring joy and make people smile.
You build castles inhabited by beautiful princesses, make unique pearl-studded tiaras and all kinds of jewellery for stage performances. Is it fantasy that drives your hand?
Yes, that's true. When I see an object, for instance a piece of wood, I realise that it can be turned into something else, become part of some other construction.
You work with all kinds of materials - textile, paper, wood, mother-of-pearl, beads, stones… How do you choose between them?
Everything is a matter of chance. I have been living in the East for a long time, particularly in Bali where I did a lot of designer work, like lamps and other furnishings. There I found many different materials. For instance, I made a miniature carriage from mother-of-pearl and napkin rings.
What else is inside your Wunderkammer?
My House of Wonders must be seen, it cannot be described. The house I live in is small, but even if I had a bigger one, it would have been full to the brim. I collect coins, stamps from all over the world. I have 72 different collections - photos, print editions, hats, boxes, musical instruments. Besides, I was lucky to be born into a family who kept a lot of antique articles in our wardrobe.
You live in Rome and on Elba Island but you also travel a lot. What place does inspire you most?
Maybe it is the East, it is for sure my source of ideas, because it abounds in colours and there's a lot of gold there. Definitely, I am a Baroque person, I am not a minimalist, which makes the East very close to my heart. In my collection I have Chinese clothes which are not authentic, I have made them up inspired by what I saw.
Where will you travel next to draw inspiration?
It could be any place. For example Bulgaria, where I am now. Here I saw necklaces and some elements of Presepe which I would like to add to my collection. I also saw amazing things of washed wool, made by local women. And the Thracian gold, which is known across the world, is something exceptional.
Why did you give the title Still Life Live to your exposition in Sofia?
Actually this was the idea of Italy's ambassador to Bulgaria, H.E. Stefano Baldi. He saw pictures of my still-lifes arranged from objects. This technique is not my invention. There are other artists who make photos resembling antique pictures. But the difference is that I always add an object which I made myself to my live installations. The exhibition in Sofia was organised in the framework of the 15th Day of Giornata del Contemporaneo - Italian Contemporary Art, the great initiative to bring the Italian art of our time to the public.
Guido Bonacci was born in Rome in 1964. His artistic style is reminiscent of the Renaissance some 400 or 500 years ago, in the line of Leonardo Da Vinci, for the many diverse forms in which he brings art to life. He was trained as an archaeologist, a profession he practiced for only a few years before he dedicated himself exclusively to producing art, home furnishing, as well as a wide variety of cultural events.