Monumental art returns to Piazza San Marco. From May 14 to June 15 during the Venice Boat Show, four monumental works by Bruno Catalano will be exhibited in four different locations in Venice, including one that will be placed in Piazza San Marco for a limited time only.
Thanks to the collaboration of the City of Venice and Vela Spa, Bruno Catalano’s monumental works will be on display under the arches of the Napoleonic Wing, in Riva Ca’ di Dio, at the entrance to the Arsenale and inside the Venice Boat Show.
The works are part of the Les Voyageurs series, striking bronze sculptures characterized by the total absence of the central part of the body, ethereal “unfinished” characters who are always carrying luggage.
Bruno Catalano’s works are represented exclusively in Italy by Ravagnan Gallery, the oldest contemporary art gallery in Piazza San Marco. In 2022, Ravagnan Gallery enters its 55th year of continuous activity, striving to always maintain a close connection with the city, especially with Piazza San Marco, where it has already exhibited works of art and given life to artistic performances several times in the past.
“Benoît”, a sculpture of an unbalanced traveler on the move as a reminder of the frenetic rhythms of the present, will be placed under the arches of the Napoleonic Wing in front of the entrance to the Correr Museum; the sculpture “Pierre David Triptyque”, a plastic metaphor for our being simple travelers in life, will be placed in Riva Ca’ di Dio; “Hubert”, a sculpture of a humble traveler who is content to follow the course of things, and “Non Finito”, a sculpture representing the infinity of directions, retouches, modifications, on an artwork, allowed by clay, will be placed at the entrance to the Arsenale.
Bruno Catalano’s Travelers
Bruno Catalano’s Travelers are characters immortalised in sculpture in the middle of a long journey, whose duration, origin and destination remain unknown to us. In his work, these men and women taken from the everyday world assume a heroic dimension. Their monumental stature pays tribute to the universal experience of journey, escape and exile. These individuals carry fragments of life and history in their luggage. Their destiny is inevitably linked to their roots, and keeps them in a precarious balance. Bruno Catalano depicts torn human beings, crossed by an immense void that evokes the scars of departure and separation, identities fragmented by difficulties, or the shadowy areas of their self-image.
“Benoît” (bronze, 310x150x150 cm)
“Benoît” is an ambivalent sculpture within the travelers series to which it belongs, because it stands at the crossroads of different temporal moments. The unbalanced posture, the particular momentum of movement, and the loose fabric of the clothes he wears indicate this man’s desire to live through the pressures of the modern world. In this character, whom one might meet on the street, at work or on the bus, the face recalls the canons of classical sculpture. The expression and the figure refer to mythological and divine figures of antiquity, like an anachronistic presence found here, strangely linked to the frenetic rhythms of the present.
“Pierre David Triptyque” (bronze, 300x106x102 cm / 269x106x102 cm / 53x106x102 cm)
The trace of a journey at once mobile and motionless. For the Traveler is not only the person who has left everything behind for a dream and an elsewhere. It is the one who, fully attired, suitcase in hand, with a straight and dignified posture, represents each and every one of us. It is with this idea that Bruno Catalano created “Pierre David Triptyque” a plastic metaphor, limpid and just, of our human condition, circumventing the taboo of senility and death. Whatever our itinerary, vagabond or more sedentary, here is what will remain of us, ephemeral travelers on this Earth: a few traces of worn, derisive matter. A pair of shoes, a suitcase, metaphors for the legacy of every human being after his or her passage. In the maturity of his work, the artist increasingly shows the passage of time; with his Triptych, he proposes a crude and eloquent emblem of our mortality, of our being mere travelers of life.
“Hubert” (bronze, 300x127x96 cm)
Standing, waiting, “Hubert” has been immortalised in a moment of absence in which his spirit is already hovering elsewhere. Dressed only in a pair of jeans, bare-chested and barefoot, he is a humble traveler, content to follow the course of things. The blue of his trousers contrasts with his bronze skin, shiny and raw, exposed to the sun and the elements. The body, despite the emptiness left behind, reveals a chiasmus worthy of Greco-Roman statuary, while a hand casually slipped into a pocket gives the character all the disdain and nonchalance of youth.
“Non Finito” (bronze, 300x150x130 cm)
A sculpture with a confusing drapery, covering the whole figure, invisible, indecipherable, ineffable: “Non Finito” represents the infinite number of directions, retouches, modifications, on an artwork, allowed by clay. In order to keep it malleable and soft, the sculptor wraps the sculpture every evening in a wet dishcloth. The artist writes a poem in three dimensions for this dishcloth, his accomplice enabling him to continue working on an unfinished statue, an allegory of a work in progress. The spectral, supernatural appearance of this sculpture represents the extraordinary spectrum of the possibilities of creation. It is not surprising, considering that this artist would endlessly rework each of his works if he could. However, there needs to be an end, and “Non Finito” is also a glimpse on what can be achieved at any given moment, a finite. Peering beyond the references to the classical style, we can see a reverence for the masters, with the rich draperies that so fascinated this self-taught artist. Finally, this sculpture speaks of work in its absolute, everyday dimension, of the artist as well as the worker. Bruno Catalano, first an assembly line worker, then a sailor and then an electrician, nurtures and honours manual work made up of repeated gestures, with its minimal variations, always in search of perfection.
Biography of Bruno Catalano
Of mixed and Mediterranean descent, Bruno Catalano was born in Morocco in 1960. In 1975 he was forced into exile with his family. Having landed in Marseille with the hope of starting a new life, he retains in his memory the pain of his own uprooting. At 18 he became a sailor, then an electrician; at 30 he encountered art and clay sculpture through artists such as Rodin, Giacometti, and César. From that moment he decided to devote his existence to sculptural art. His art evolved from clay to bronze and he sculpted larger and larger figures, thus achieving remarkable technical feats.
The Ravagnan Gallery pursues its activities between artistic research and commercial endeavor, hosting in its spaces some of the most original and important artists of our time. Founded by Luciano Ravagnan in 1967, Ravagnan Gallery is located on the eastern side of Piazza San Marco, under the arches of the Procuratie Nuove, a few steps from the Campanile. In 2019, the Ravagnan Gallery opened a second location in Venice, in the heart of the “Dorsoduro Museum Mile,” next to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.