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April 2023 | Art & Culture | Vol 9

BOSCO SODI

Unique, unrepeatable explorations

words Onur Baştürk

photos Alex Krotkov, Greg Delves

He paints large-scale, textured paintings. Sometimes sculptural objects... The main indispensable raw, natural material. Sawdust, wood, pulp, clay, and sometimes even solid volcanic magma collected from the volcano can form his artifacts.

He sees the creative process as something unrepeatable and describes this process as “controlled chaos”. That is, he mixes raw materials with natural fibers and glue to create the dense surface of the paintings. As the layers of material dry, the surface begins to take shape. The textured surface, which naturally cracks, is a product of both the creative process and nature’s unpredictability. He also shapes the clay with his hands into smooth, solid cubes, which he allows to dry in the sun before firing them in a traditional brick kiln. Each cube takes on a unique identity as the material changes in color and texture during this process.

These are the first characteristics that come to mind about Mexican artist Bosco Sodi... but of course, there are more! For example, Casa Wabi, the ‘art residency’ center for artists founded in Oaxaca. Or the unforgettable landscape of 195 stunning clay balls representing the world’s nation-states...

I LOVE WORKING WITH CLAY

 

Have you focused more on sculpture and Mexican heritage traditions in recent years? Or has that always been the case?

 

Actually, I have always been interested in working with sculpture as an object or establishing its relationship with space. Also, the strong presence of stone figures had always attracted me, as my family took me to the Mayan ruins as a child.

 

The sculptures you made out of clay are very remarkable. You say that it’s in our DNA to work with clay. In fact, all the earliest sculptures in human history are made of clay. When did your connection to clay begin?

 

I have been working with clay since I was a child. But when we opened Casa Wabi, I encountered clay again. Because there is a great variety of artisans here. I love working with clay. Clay is a very interesting material. Because it contains four elements...

Your clay balls, “What Goes Around Comes Around”, also exhibited at the Venice Biennale, were like old relics...

 

I made these clay balls, all different from each other, by hand and fired them in the kiln. At the end of the Venice Biennale, Venetians could buy one of the balls and take it home!

You collected solidified volcanic magma from the Ceboruco volcano to make stone sculptures. How did you discover it? Is it not hard to collect?

I was sure that I would get the rocks from this volcano. But I did not carve the rocks. I chose rocks with interesting shapes and cleaned them. Then I polished them with red and real gold glass. The idea was to create an object of desire from a rock that was organic and unique.

UNPREDICTABLE STATE OF THE NATURAL MATERIAL

 

It is essential for you to use the raw materials of nature. Which raw material interests you the most?

I work with sawdust in my paintings and stone or clay in my sculptures. I love that organic materials are unpredictable and always lead us to a unique result, a place of no return.

 

Will you be making more sculptures from now on? Or have you left your production process to “uncontrolled chaos”, as is the nature of your work?

 

My point is the lack of control and the fact that things evolve on their own. For unique and unrepeatable undertakings...

 

How are the works in your latest exhibition, “Alabanzas”?

 

This exhibition is about my works during the pandemic. I wanted to show people how healing could creating be in these difficult times.

 

What does the Casa Wabi you set up for artists mean to you? Is this really the place you imagined?

 

Casa Wabi is a life project for me. The artists are selected by a board of trustees and then invited. We can invite six artists at a time, and they work with the local community. It is a project I am very proud of!

 

You live between New York and Oaxaca. Does living in different cities and areas nourish you?

 

Home for me is New York. The place where my kids go to school is our main place. Oaxaca is where I see my family and friends and ‘retouch’ my roots. I love this multicultural perspective that inspires much of my work.

 

What will be the content of your exhibition to be displayed this fall at Sevil Dolmaci Gallery in Istanbul?

 

Since it is my first exhibition at the gallery, we plan to show the best works, paintings, and sculptures from different series, as well as some of my latest works.

CASA WABI

Casa Wabi was founded by Bosco Sodi to promote the exchange of ideas between artists and local communities. The gallery is located in the Mexican city of Puerto Escondido, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Named after the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, in which imperfections are blessed, Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando designed this spacious art center. At first glance, Casa Wabi stands out for its thatched roof made of dried palm leaves. Buildings with this type of roof, common in the region, are called “palapa”. Casa Wabi’s interiors, on the other hand, have a more modern feel with geometric concrete walls, columns, stone floors, and wooden shutters.