The Paintings of Maurizio Bonfanti
Born in 1952 in Bergamo, a city in the alpine Lombardy region, Maurizio Bonfanti is an Italian painter and the son of fresco painter Angelo Bonfanti. He currently works from his studio in Bergamo close to his home in Torre Boldone.
Maurizio Bonfanti’s formal artistic education began with studies at the Liceo Artistico in Bergamo with additional courses in etching and intaglio at Bergamo’s Accademia di Bella Arti. In addition to his art studies, Bonfanti also studied modern literature at the Università Statale in Milan. In 1973, he left his study of modern literature and began to pursue his career as a painter.
Bonfanti spent the decade of the 1970s exclusively working in the medium of etching but later made the decision to concentrate on painting. His work, which deals with the themes of nature, the human body and urban landscapes, is produced using experimental techniques influenced by his knowledge of etching. Bonfanti paints in thematic cycles, many of which are influenced by his early religious upbringing. His work has been influenced by such figurative artists as painter Renzo Vespignani, sculptor Augusto Perez, and postwar painters Gionfranco Ferroni and Giuseppe Guerreschi.
The development of a specific viewing angle seen in many of Bonfanti’s paintings was influenced by his experience in the photographic field. The focus point for his figurative work lies with the faceless human figures placed central in his compositions. These figures are posed theatrically, either standing, seated or crouching, and often portrayed alone, naked and surrounded by darkness. These compositions, represented in large-format images on canvas paper, display tension between the fragility of man highlighted by body language and the dense mixture of the unraveling, surrounding space. Faceless, the central figure’s condition and emotional state are inferred by the viewer solely through the pose of the depicted body.
Since 1978, Bonfanti’s work has been shown in many collective and solo exhibitions, both in Italy and abroad. He has participated in two prestigious exhibitions at Utrecht’s Contemporary Art Centre in Schalkwijk and showed in major exhibitions in Belgium and Holland. In 2001, on the occasion of the first Day of Remembrance, Bonfanti exhibited a cycle of large-format works entitled “Five Doors in Memory of the Shoah” in the Tempietto of the Synagogue of Turin.
Bonfanti won the 2004 Prize of the Lord Mayor at the International Biennial of Drawing in Pilsen. In 2012, his cycle of works, inspired by the biblical text “Ezechiele: 37”, was exhibited at the Museo Bernareggi in Bergamo. Bonfanti showed his work at the 2015 “A Different Perspective: Artwork by the Laureates of the Biennial of Drawing Pilsen” held at the Museum of West Bohemia. In 2016, his solo show “Limen” was held inside the historic Palazzo Storico del Credito Bergamasco in Bergamo.
Maurizio Bonfanti taught painting techniques at the Liceo Artistico from 1976 to 1983. Since 1983, he has been a teacher of drawing and visual communication at a design and advertising school in Bergamo.
“The surface of the paper on which I create my nudes suffers a series of attacks, which are an integral part of the expressive language of my works. I try to give substance to a smooth and neutral surface, and make it undergo a deterioration alongside the image, which is also intentionally eroded and scratched. The “wounded” paper is then glued to the canvas, creating the image of a body which seems to re-emerge from the past, but carries with it the fragility and energy of contemporary man.” — Maurizio Bonfanti, Excerpt from the 2021 Novitas Gallery exhibition
Second Insert Image: Maurizio Bonfanti, “Figura maschile in Paesaggio Urbano”, 2008, Mixed Technique on Paper on Canvas, 110 x 80 cm, Private Collection
Bottom Insert Image: Mauricio Bonfanti, “Confinato VI”, 2020, Acrylic Charcoal and Oil on Paper on MDF Panel, 30 x 30 cm, Private Collection