“Le Grand Van Gogh”
Bruno Catalano’s bronze sculptures have one thing in common: they’re drawing a blank, literally. Where there should have been a body, a shirt or an arm there’s, well, nothing.
Yo man, where are you going? – “Johnny”
Regardless of whether one calls the series by its original name, “The Travelers” (“Les Voyageurs” in French), or as sometimes suggested, “In Search of Missing Pieces”, the viewer always has to fill in the blanks.
“Le Grand Van Gogh” from the back
Sometimes, that might not even be necessary as the sculpture here shows. The picturesque landscape seems to add what’s missing. Maybe a message to all of us to become a bit more transparent?
Travelling together? - "Travelers"
Other sculptures in the series, however, grip the viewer and throw up a seemingly endless string of questions: Where is the man portrayed off to? Why doesn’t he seem to care about his missing piece? Is he in a rush?
One could go on but one question, especially upon first being confronted with the art, pushes all others into the background: How is it done? How come the sculptures don’t fall? How can one sculpt around air?
The answer to all those questions is of course: very cleverly. The binding link is so well concealed that at first, the viewer is simply puzzled by the construction. Then, he or she notices the unifying element of all sculptures: a suitcase, bag or guitar case that’s casually being carried by the person in one hand. And that connects the torso (or what’s left of it) with one leg. Very clever indeed. The other leg is sculpted separately and simply placed next to it and suddenly, the air seems sculpted too.
"Alfredo's" missing link with close-up on the right
French artist Bruno Catalano was born in southern France in 1960. Though he had admired art since his youth, Catalano didn’t start sculpting until he was 30. He taught himself and with remarkable talent. Since starting with clay, more than a hundred of his trademark travelers have come alive under his capable hands. Since then, he’s had numerous exhibitions in France, the United States, England and China.
But what’s behind his desire to leave out parts and to portray people traveling? Here’s what one of his galleries has to say: “[Bruno Catalano’s] 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.”
“JC” – wondering what’s in the guitar case
Nicely said. One also has to admire the perfect balance these imperfect travelers have attained. Though they might be missing something, they are in perfect harmony with the air around them. The incredible lightness of being after all? Only one thing seems sure with Bruno Catalano’s work: The more information one gets, the more questions one seems to have. Not even considering the biggest of all – are the sculptures half full or half empty?