Lorenzo Budello Madonna of the Poppies, Detail
Lorenzo Budello is an Italian artist who lives and works in Rome. Certain paintings arrive in my line of vision like archaic moments of thought, inflected with images of veil, shadow, the sacred, and the uncanny. Succulent or grotesque figures and haptic texture makes each surface interesting.
Lorenzo Budello Madonna of the Poppies
Using techniques from historic fresco painting, the veils of abstract planes of colour, and a classic sculptural formality, Budello makes complex layered works, punctuated by the sensibility of iconic representation. Motifs and dialogues draw from various sources and interests such as Byzantine art, the intersection of the east and west in Georgian culture, 20th century warfare, as well as contemporary and historic problems of conflict, and ecological issues.
The artist’s connection to Byzantine art and iconography began with Pavel Alexandrovich Florensky’s work on icons “my art is deeply affected by the mysticism of iconographic representation.”
Lorenzo Budello Beheaded, detail
Budello shares the importance of this time in Tbilisi:
“My time in Georgia was deeply influential at two levels. First, this is a place where the cultures of both the west and east come together to form a deeply complex and symbiotic sensibility. To live in this culture, to study and make art meant that I had to become open to an understanding of space, time, form, and spirituality quite unlike empirical western society. “
Lorenzo Budello Home Sacer, detail
In addition to his artistic practice, Budello is a leading art conservator, and over the past twenty years has contributed significantly to the restoration of major cultural and historic monuments.
I am most grateful to Lorenzo for taking the time to answer my questions.
Rosa: Specifically, what “conservation” or restoration techniques do you use to create your work?
Lorenzo: I prepare my own canvases and surfaces with ancient techniques such as rabbit glue and chalk. I love the use of Japanese paper; tissue paper and I make use of paraffin that I spread in thick layers. Sometimes I try to combine materials that are incompatible with one another such as water and solvent. These are all materials that are used in the restoration of frescos and canvases but clearly, I use them in a free and creative artistic context.
Lorenzo Budello Homer Sacer and the Vanishing Flower
Rosa: Was there a formative point during your youth that led you to draw and to study art?
Lorenzo: I remember that since childhood I spent long hours drawing and passionately reading art texts and encyclopaedias. History is another subject that really interests me, I always had the belief that to look forward we must look back, and so in art.
Rosa: Do you have a particular memory of any special artwork or monument, or artists you admire?
Lorenzo: During my formative years, Paul Klee’s art, philosophy and vision that provided me with the inspiration for my earliest abstract works. What I liked most of Klee’s work is the visible realities such as sun, moon, mountains, trees and architectures, as well as surreal motifs, and sentiments, and the reassembling of the natural world.
In terms of work I admire, there are many and belong to different epochs and genre. Usually, I prefer certain artists during certain time of my life when I face artistic, spiritual or challenges. I remember falling in love with Antonello da Messina, and I love everything from Velasquez, who has deeply influenced me: others include Francis Bacon and the I particularly like the beautiful painting Lesende by Gerhard Richter.
Lorenzo Budello Afghan Symphony
Rosa: You spent formative time in Georgia, studying and making art. What led you to Georgia?
Lorenzo: I was inspired by readings about mythical places, such as the ancient Colchis Greek myth of Prometheus, Jason, Medea, a crossroads of cultures where East meets the West. In Georgia, I studied the ornate, complex, and beautiful iconography of Byzantine art, and came to be engaged in both the historic and contemporary Georgian visual culture.
The other level was my first-hand experience of living in Tbilisi during the civil war where conflict became an everyday occurrence. My work is intrinsically connected to this moment in my life, and reflects not only my own experience, but of those around me, and on a more global level, the issues surrounding war and conflict.
Rosa: What was the contemporary art scene like when you lived there? It seems to be that so much went on that we will never know, in terms of creativity behind the iron curtain. Not only was it secret then, much of it seems forgotten or erased.
Yes, I was in Tbilisi studying at the Academy of Fine Arts between 1989-90, during the perestroika. In Georgia, art was at a standstill –most works were in a very dated academic naturalist style. Yet, the young artists were eager to escape the communist regime’s physical and aesthetics and knew very little of the art world beyond Iron Curtain.