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Art Watch : Bruno Catalano

Bruno Catalano is in focus for our Art Watch for today. This section is brought to you by Art From Us and Divvya Nirula. The Artists we spotlight here can be from any field, across any discipline, and using a variety of media. We share here why we think they are important and worth watching. Be it genius creators of eras gone by. Or the upcoming contemporary artist who is yet to have their first show. All come under the purview of Art Watch.

One of the most compelling sculptures that describe the plight of the life of immigrants, refugees as well as the emptiness of modern existence – are Bruno Catalano’s “Travelers” The sculpture series that took the art world by storm and have now assumed epic status for the statement that they have made the world over. Bruno Catalano’s shattered, eroded and sculptures are perfectly imperfect for they are now synonymous with the concept of wanderers. His titled series ‘Les Voyageurs’ – comprise people who are travelling with an ‘idea’ of home but never truly finding it. These structures show the person walking forward with luggage, but pieces of themselves missing. Though they aim to reach their destination – and they might even, it will not be as a whole.

Catalano’s work is reflective of his own immigrant live. Bruno is originally from Morocco. In 1970 the Catalano family left their home for France. In 1982 he started working at the Société Nationale Maritime Corse Méditerranée, and he remained a sailor. One if the aspects of maritime life is the rootlessness.

His works that evoke a sense of loss, and the characters who have left a part of themselves behind – quite literally- are enveloped by the new spaces that they go to. They are on their own – still  vulnerable. These bronze statues that are to be applauded for the structural feat he has accomplished, but also for the conceptual depth they house.

Why Bruno Catalano?

Catalano says : “I feel like this occurs several times during life and of course everyone has missing pieces in his or her life that he wont find again. ‘So the meaning can be different for everyone, but to me the sculptures represent a world citizen. ‘I get inspiration mainly from people around me – family, friends, neighbours, even colleagues or strangers. My other source of inspiration is the travel.

Catalano worked for many years through different professions to finally arrive at what he wanted to do, and gave voice and structure to his vision. He finally  turned to sculpture at age 30, when he had his own studio and his own tools – where he devoted himself to creating his subjects. The theme of travel had always inspired Catalano. He has worked exceedingly hard and from the time he started to knead clay, hundreds of “Travellers” went out of his feverish hands, populating his studio while awaiting an unknown destination. His initial pieces were more conventional, they stayed tied to the earth element and the series that followed have gained in expressiveness and finesse.

Artistic Practice

One of the things that makes these works amazing is the lack of volume from the dashed bodies. There is a deliberate invitation to the viewer to mentally reconstruct the missing parts of the sculptures. One of his most poignant works is that of the troubled Van Gogh, who is seen going away, with a suitcase in his hand, to the Provencal countryside, but he is in an almost abstract lightness, open to wind and light. It is as though he has created a space within his creation for the viewers thoughts and meditations.

“In my work, I’m always looking for the movement and the expression of feelings, I get out of form and wax inertia to give them life,” Catalano declares. “Coming from Morocco myself, I carried these suitcases full of memories that I represent so often. They do not only contain images but also experiences, desires: my roots in motion.”


For more Artists handpicked by Divvya Nirula – explore the ART WATCH archive.

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