November 1, 2013 - January 26, 2014
If you let art be a living force, it will tell you what to do; that is inspiration on the deepest level. The trick is to be a very sensitive listener; once something is born into paint, the artist needs to have the ability to listen to it without judgment, and to accept its reality outside of oneself. The painting exists in its own state, and it is for me to accept its vision and not judge it according to ethics or beauty. In its awkwardness or ugliness, sometimes vulgarness, it has reached a state of truthfulness. This truthfulness is an awareness of its reality outside of myself. I will always believe more in its truthfulness, its emotional clarity, than in its beauty or rightness.
-Bill Jensen, notable abstract painter
Bruno Tanonis was inspired to create a body of work after coming in contact with two works of art: a beautiful musical composition by American avant-garde composer David Lang entitled, Depart and a Japanese Oscar-winning drama film, Departures. David Lang’s commissioned composition was the accompanying musical soundscape to a beautiful place of mourning at the Raymond Poincaré hospital in Garches, France. Instead of communicating a specific feeling, Lang’s composition gave people permission to examine their own thoughts and emotions. The film, Departures elegantly illustrates Japan’s traditional encoffining ceremony (nokan) of dressing and preparing bodies before their placement in coffins.
In recent years, Tanonis lost two of his close friends and mentors who helped define his art and individuality. Searching for a way to understand and accept their deaths, Tanonis created a collection of work examining Death’s transformational quality.
“Everyone is so fearful of death and the unknown. It is hard for people to accept a fate that we are all destined to. When my mentors passed away suddenly from cancer, I was left with this brooding fear and distress of not being able to say good-bye, or at least in the way that I wanted to. Lang’s composition and the film Departures gave me a reaffirming perspective on death and sparked my desire to create a collection that not only paid homage to my mentors, but celebrated the embracement of death.”
This new perspective translates on different levels in Tanonis’ recent work. Almost in defiance of death’s destructive and ominous command, Tanonis creates vivid and bright works of art which seem to spontaneously move, taking a life of its own.
“The film Departures sheds light on this beautiful, yet pedantic ritual of cleansing the dead. I admire the sensitivity and intimacy in which this process is done. I wanted to convey a similar sense of fearlessness, affirmation, and compassion in my work.”
The loose and playful design in Tanonis’ collection is a departure from his earlier works of art which were influenced by his formal teachings in New York. Straying from conceptual thought, Tanonis wants his viewers to appreciate the loose and experimental nature of his work as an open space in which to confidently reflect and feel. Letting art take fold by pouring, dripping and pushing paint, Tanonis releases any boundaries or pre-conceived expectations that the canvas may hold.
A local San Diegan, Bruno Tanonis received his M.F.A at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. He has exhibited in many solo, group and juried exhibitions including the Steuben South Gallery in Brooklyn and the Everett Gee Jackson Gallery in San Diego. Finding a new passion in teaching, Tanonis currently works at the St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center where he teaches art to adults with developmental disabilities.
Join us for the Opening Reception on Friday, November 1st from 5 -7pm. Meet the artist and enjoy a Fall night in the Garden. Light refreshments and cash bar will be provided.