Born free

An interview with Marco Bravura, man and mosaic artist.

Michele Tosi

D. How important and to what extent does your personal life influence your career as a mosaic artist? How do these aspects interact?

A. I think that all told there is a strong bond between my personal life and my artistic career. In my case, it could hardly be otherwise.
To put it very briefly, the search for beauty has always inspired me.
Then life itself – and my life has been very “demanding” in many ways – also teaches you to be patient, determined, “courageous” and disciplined – all things that go hand in hand with artistic work and especially with mosaics. All the more, from a practical point of view, I live in a home-workshop – my studio has always been next-door to my home, so I don’t “go to work” – I live and work .

Q. Which artists – in mosaics and other fields – have most influenced you over time?

A. While I was studying, in the 1970s, I was fascinated by the Pop Art movement and even before that I would have liked to paint like Pollock. That period, personally speaking, was followed by an absolutely necessary void and silence, which I understood afterwards as the way I could find my own language.

D. Your mosaics, and your approach to their development, express a great sense of freedom. What is ‘freedom’ for you? How do you embody this sense of freedom in your work?

A. I can say that “freedom” for me means continual evolution. From the outset, I freed myself from the need to “do or make”. Then from contemporary minimalist influences, to release and liberate my deepest feelings, the source of everything for all of us. This also makes it easy to let the people around us be free – assistants and students, for example. If they do not feel free, how can they follow me in selecting designs, colours and cuts of the tesserae?

Q. What exactly is a mosaic? Are mosaics still important in contemporary art?

A. A mosaic is a mosaic is a mosaic. It is a means of expression just like many other techniques used by artists. I personally think that mosaics are extremely “up-to-date”: as an artist, I feel free to use the materials and techniques that are most congenial at the time and for the project in question. In some of my works, this is vital.

Q. What does ‘Beauty’ mean to you?

Q. Something Dostoevsky said comes to mind: “.. beauty will save the world”. I put a great deal of faith in this laic “salvific annunciation”. I especially keep my eyes open to see beauty – there is so much when you know how to find it. I prefer to leave conceptual definitions to others, although I think Kant was right in saying that “.. beauty is grasped intuitively, without concepts”.

Q. You have worked on numerous occasions on important creations with the great Tonino Guerra. How did your relationship develop in human and artistic terms? How does it work from a design/operative point of view?

1. A. It goes without saying that meeting Tonino was a kind of love at first sight. He has a knack of making meetings so direct and simple, even when he asks you to develop things that aren’t exactly easy, and in the end it’s like when you fall in love, everything becomes so natural. Tonino tells stories, fascinates you and drags you right inside the project, so that you can see and feel it even before you think about it in technical terms. Then, he makes suggestions, of course, but he leaves you free and this condition, in my case, as I said, was fundamental.

Q. Do you think that artistic/craftsman mosaics and industrial products can interact? In what kinds of experiences is it possible?

A. This is the most difficult question because I don’t like to talk about abstract theories. I think above all that such challenges “include” rather than “exclude”. So far over my career, this kind of interaction has never arisen but despite this it’s in my character to be open to possibilities: I think that if a client asked for this, it would be a challenge that I’d like to accept .. as soon as I’ve finished preparing the next exhibition, we can talk about it.

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