BERTOZZI & CASONI

Bertozzi & Casoni is a partnership that was set up by Giampaolo Bertozzi (Borgo Tossignano, Bologna, 1957) and Stefano Dal Monte Casoni (Lugo di Romagna, Ravenna, 1961), in Imola in 1980. Their art education began at the Istituto Statale d’Arte per la Ceramica di Faenza in an atmosphere dominated by a post-informal coldness then in fashion. They were more interested in the figurative sculptures of Angelo Biancini, with whom Bertozzi worked in his studio at the school. Gianna Boschi’s decorative art and Alfonso Leoni’s conceptual radicalism. When they had completed their studies, Bertozzi and Casoni attended the Accademia di Belle Arti di Bologna, started their business and took part in events focusing on the main ideas and figures of new ceramic.

Executive ability and detached irony already marked their first creations in fine polychrome majolica. They then gained important experience working as researchers in the Centro Sperimentazioni e Ricerche sulla Ceramica at the Cooperativa Ceramic di Imola (1985-1990). In 1987 and 1988 they worked with “K International Ceramics Magazine”, for which they also produced cover pictures.

In the 1980s their executive virtuosity reached new heights in sculptural works, intersections with design and the production of works by renowned Italian and European artists, including Arman and Allessandro Mendini.

In 1990 they created fountains and big sculptures for an urban operation in Tama, a new suburb of Tokyo. Their big panel Ditelo con I fiori was hung on an outside wall of the civic hospital in Imaola in 1993.

They adopted a more conceptual and radical approach in the 1990s: the work increased in size to the point of linguistic and constructive exaggeration.

Their work aroused the interest of most important Italian and International art galleries and critics.

Their sculptures – symbolic, mocking and pervaded by sense of attraction for all that is short-lived, perishable and decaying – have become internationally recognised icons of a human condition that is not only contemporary. The biting irony of their works is always balanced by an unassailable executive perfection. Between compositional surrealism and formal hyperrealism, Bertozzi and Casoni study contemporary society’s rubbish, including that of its culture: of the past and more recent art trends. Icons like the Brillo box, passed through the filter of Pop Art, and the tins of Merda d’artista of Piero Manzoni, in refined ceramic versions that examine their obsolescence and decay, show the signs of a time irremediably gone and a congealment in forms that, conversely, give them genuinely immortal fate.

Bertozzi and Casoni abandoned the use of majolica after 2000 In favour of industrial ceramic materials, in a kind of renewed epic of trash. These increased the hypnotic power of their now technically perfect works, well beyond the already exceptional results previously achieved.

The physical presence of objects and figures put in the representation attracts ideational complexity and elliptical references, suggestion increases with discovery of material used and the perfect mimesis reached and, finally, the formal implications emerge, including paintings, of powerfully figurative works, but basically conceptual and abstract.

A contemporary version of the theme of vanitas, which has seen great masters of the past compressing the space of a canvas shining flowers, fruit, food and symbolic animals. Allusions to impermanence (memento mori) that Bertozzi and Casoni, masters of the doubt and of the maybe overturn in search of beauty; a beauty also to be found in the more neglected and tortured subject.

Virtues of an art which, ironically, make it noble again.

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