Aiming to get familiar with Johannes Bosisio’s body of work, the viewer will easily realize that the painter’s imagery is directly associated with the field of abstraction. His big canvases attempt to trigger the viewer’s perception by showing uncommon images that are balancing between illusion and reality. Drawing inspiration by personal memories and real objects, the painter starts to deconstruct the initial image and give it a new form. In a broader manner, the field of abstraction incites various forms of expressions in which artists’ practices embody either heavy or more gentle compositions whose codes may be less direct or more easily comprehensible. In this regard, Bosisio’s vague structures are on a balanced edge allowing the viewer to feel engaged with the paintings; his visualizations bring in mind common objects that have been reformed by the artist.
Words: Yannis Kostarias
For example, although mechanical objects, or part of them, might be vaguely deconstructed on the artist’s canvases, his technique provides a very dynamic imagery that evidently establishes a meaningful concept. Bosisio’s painterly practice creates new subjects rendered by multiple fragments of an indeterminate character through the concept of reduction and distortion. Autonomous units -yet not erratically placed on the same framework- or outwardly united entities in an equally constructive or deconstructive way highlight the intellectual and deeply creative foundation of the artist’s narratives. More particularly, the image of a car while its parts get together in the automotive industry or alternatively the car itself fragmented in individual pieces can be seen as a broad attempt to decode Bosisio’s abstract stories on canvas. From a metaphorical perspective, the emerging artist plays a diligent and witty game about what is seen and unseen giving the emphasis on the meaning of appearance. The semiotics of his forms and shapes illustrate through the rigorously presented objects and their surrounding surfaces the beautifully arising dialectics based on the idea of contradiction. An image or object whose pieces come together or respectively are set apart states the binary essence of the same situation from a different angle.
Bosisio’s painterly language reveals vague narratives that initially seem weirdly familiar whereas a closer observation leaves the identification process insufficient in the very next moment. Imaginary figurative elements float freely over the polychromatic space of the artist’s canvases. His visual depictions underline mild references of a trompe l’oeil involving constant transitions between abstraction and semi-figuration considering the importance of the spatial imagination and experimentation in each artwork. Aesthetic ambiguities and clarities produce a unique pictorial framework; their intense contradictory interplay allows manifold interpretations and possibilities. The autonomous arrangements that are rich in colour and dense in forms operate independently, however they still manage to remarkably coexist and communicate with each other.
Perception is an ongoing challenge while observing Bosisio’s imagery, as the artist painstakingly copes with abstract norms and narratives, leading the viewer to explore alternative approaches of looking an artwork. Bosisio’s paintings emerge as a visual entanglement that contributes to a constant discernible ambiguity. This, subsequently, provides an optical investigation about uncommon ways of seeing an artwork’s concept rendered in a remarkable stylized fluidity. In this realm, Bosisio’s Shapeshifter series summarise the artist’s stylized fractured visual vocabulary that enhances the spatial illusion in which his ambiguous objects are rendered in matte, blurry and glossy finishes. Grey and more metallic hues dominate the artist’s colour palette while more vivid hints, such as light red, yellow and blue, manage to contribute to a vibrant contrasting result on his canvases.
Can you tell us about the process of making your work?
The starting point of my work is a quite broad idea. I spend a lot of time in car junkyards taking pictures of metal and car scrapin order to use them as subjects for my paintings. I see the automobile as an allegory for the interconnections between mankind, technology, culture, politics and economics. In this sense the machine (automobile) becomes the extension of our limbs and senses. A translation of man’s action into mechanical reactions. In my paintings I am trying to explore relationships between mankind and machine and transgressions of existing dualisms such as the separation of material and immaterial, organic and inorganic, humans and machines. I fuse binary forms in order to create hybrids.
How would you define your work in a few words (ideally in 3 words)?
Sharp, Hybrid, Rupture.
Could you share with us some insights on your ‘Shapeshifter’, (2021)? Is there any particular story behind this new paintings?
Shapeshifter is the title of a series I’m currently working on. This series is based on the dystopian novel crash by James Graham Ballard. Overall, the novel explores the psychological impact of technological developments, approaching a sexual fetish in which the traditional notion of sexuality serving procreation is replaced by the construction of a technological aestheticism. The setting Ballard creates on his stage is a glossy, shiny but above all superficial world. Metal, chrome and steel surround and embrace the protagonists in almost every situation. The automobile becomes a private bedroom or even the object of love or desire itself. Steel and chrome, in fact, are materials with a perfect smooth, shiny texture that embody our modernity to the fullest. This series is about an intimate and at the same time erotic perception of smooth mirrored metal surfaces.
Where do you draw inspiration in order to build up your distinctive imageryon canvas? Is it related to personal memories or is it closer to your imagination as an artist?
I believe that my process of inspiration results from accumulating personal memories in order to shape them by my perception as an artist. For example, my involvement with Berlin’s hedonistic club culture, shaped by the futuristic and mechanical sound of electronic music, formed my interest in interactions and relations between man and machine. From these experiences I extract overlaps that are relevant to me in order to process them through an artistic perception.
Do specific artworks have been created by random experiments in your studio or do you always come up with a particular concept or narrative in the very beginning?
I surely have theoretical foundations on which my work is built and a rough idea of how I want to start the painting. But in the painting process it is very important to me that the work goes its own way. The path of my work is always triggered by random experiences and thus give the work a freshly new direction.
Is there any particular theme that utterly triggers you to engage your art with?
I’m currently interested in interconnections of man and machine and how technology is shaping the human psyche. Donna Haraway‘s „Cyborg Manifesto“ for example , which has cult status and significantly influenced feminist theory, is an important component of my work and my interest in potential cyborgs in our society. Her cyborg represents an alternative to western thinking towards dualisms as it crosses boundaries between man and machine. I like the idea of the cyborg as a critical tool to understand developments in our society.
What would be the best way to exhibit your work?
I find my paintings work well in old, run-down warehouses as they have commonalities but also show a contrast to the partly broken concrete walls.
Can you mention any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?
Currently I’m very much into a younger generationof painterslike Daisy Parris, Trey Abdella, Avery Singer, Tomas Harker, Antwan Horfee, Peles EmpireandJordan Kasey.
Do you wonder if additional work was needed, when an artwork’s making process is finished?
Interesting question! As in my last work, after completing the painting process, I tried to expand the work by adding sculptural elements, in the form of a frame, to detach it from its purely painterly quality. I find that the sculptural addition has worked quite well,and I will definitely continue to experiment with it. Regarding your question – I think that sometimes (not always) interventions on finished works are fundamental to give the work the missing 10 percent. However, from my experience, such interventions can only be done with a “fresh eye”, i.e. with some distance to the work.
Has this corona virus pandemic offered you any inspiration somehow during all these long lockdowns?
I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I was very lucky to be able to work in my home studio during this time. I had a steady focus, which was good for my work up to a certain point. However, I only created output and I was marked by the lack of exhibition visits. I realised that I desperately needed input and I´m therefore looking forward to the upcoming summer, which I hope will be richer in cultural exchange as the one before.
What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space look like?
As I mentioned earlier, I worked at my home studio where I was able to produce relatively big scale paintings. I had good lighting conditions through the roof windows and a large painting wall. Since I worked at home, I had to learn to work neatly and tidily as I lived at the same place. However, I am speaking in the past tense as I just moved to London at the beginning of May for my MA studies at the Royal College of Art.
Which are your plans for the near future?
I’m really looking forward to my time in London because getting out of your comfort zone allows you to grow. I love the drive and the fast pace of the city. I’m still keeping it open about what will happen after my MA. I might go to New York for a while.
All images courtesy of the artist