Below is an extract from Maggie McCormick’s presentation of BLACK RAIN, an exhibition by Bruno Pasqualini at Roar-2 Studios, Melbourne, Australia in 1994.
Bruno Pasqualini is Italian by birth and his experiences growing up in Italy and studying at the Fine Art Academy in Bologna formed a framework for his art. From his very early years he responded to the fluidity of ink and the associated spontaneity of abstraction. “I’m really painting the same painting I started as a child. There isn’t much you can teach an artist. You can just refine what is already there.”
Bruno’s refinement came after hours, outside of the Academy, in the cafes of Bologna where together with other young artists and writers, he looked outside of Italy, away from the restrictions of its classicism, to the artists of the United States. In particular he looked to De Kooning and Pollock.
After showing together with the other Italian artists in Bologna and Venice, Bruno set off on a search for self that led him to the cafes of London, the bridges of Paris, the ashrams of India and finally to the unknown of Australia. Coming from the restrictive classicism of Italy he moved to a society unrestrained by traditions and eager to explore its own directions. Along the way he learnt a new language and gathered experiences that further refined and enriched his art.
Bruno’s abstraction reflects the desire of romanticism to search nature and the emotions. His paintings begin at the point of gesture and intuition rather than from the point of an idea. The spontaneous act of painting is let go to go beyond the physicality of the paint itself, beyond what we think we know and understand. This is what matters.
There is a power in his strong colour choices and a subtlety in the mixing of these colours. This strong colour preference sits side by side with a strong sound preference for the music of Mahler and Wagner. More subtle references, in his work, are made to a range of experiences that have informed the work including Chinese calligraphy, Indian thought and life and the music and poetry of Leonard Cohen.
Like all art whether abstract or figurative, the artist is present, impacting on the viewer and via the viewer, on contemporary thought and action. Recently when Bruno’s work was on show in Melbourne an unknown viewer emerged from the opening night crowd to shake Bruno’s hand and say “Thankyou for showing that work”, before disappearing as fast as he had appeared.
Bruno’s abstract images have titles strongly associated with the ‘real’ world. “I often think that my work which is abstract, is more realistic than figurative work.” ‘A Dove is Never Free’ reveals no dove in the painting, but as you look at the painting the state of never being free is clear. The titles do not always link so closely to the imagery and reflect Bruno’s state of mind at the time of painting, rather than growing out of the paintings themselves. Clues are not always to be found in what we see. A personal diary, not intended for public viewing, holds all the titles together with the dates of painting.
The art historian looks back and places boxes over and borders around groups of artists, linking them together with very particular threads. Artists generally walk an individual line and although they look to each other and glean from each other, they are not so neatly categorised and packaged as the art historian/writer might wish to project.
Abstraction in the 90’s may have its historical links to the Pollocks and De Koonings of the art historian packages, but its contemporary links to the high technology art of this decade is likely to be overlooked. Recently I had the opportunity to view Stelarc creating his art juxtaposed against a backdrop of Bruno Pasqualini’s art. The visual imagery of both was in harmony for the viewer. The linear work in Bruno’s paintings for example, created by paint applied with mixer sticks, pouring, piercing paint build up and gravity could have easily been created by laser beams. Artists work from the unconscious and the visual interpretation of this is to some degree determined by access and experience. An exhibition of Bruno Pasqualini’s abstract works together with the work of an artist using the medium of high technology would form the basis of a debate on the nature of contemporary imagery and in particular the place of technology in relation to other mediums of art expression. Art never follows the convenient linear trail but rather a zig zag, overlapping path.
Moving back to the present, this show of abstract works by Bruno Pasqualini stands strongly alone, on its own terms, in its own framework.