At first sight, Bosco Sodi's use of limited colours and unadorned, geometric motifs may evoke Minimalism. However, instead of industrial precision, the Mexican-born artist hand-sculpts his organically textured paintings and sculptures—a process guided by the Japanese philosophy of wabi sabi, which treasures imperfection and chance happenings.Read More
The dense materiality of Sodi's paintings is achieved by his use of a mixture of pigments, pulp, sawdust, and glue that he applies to the canvas by hand, building layer upon layer. Once done, the paintings are left to dry over the course of three to five weeks; during this period, the thick surface cracks and hardens in unpredictable ways, thus creating a unique texture for each work.
Sodi typically employs a monochromatic colour palette, having worked with radiant hues such as blue, green, red, pink, and silver. His solo exhibition A Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains at Axel Vervoordt Gallery Hong Kong (2020) featured turquoise. Sodi had been influenced by the sweeping blue-green brush strokes of an eponymous landscape painting by Wang Ximeng, a 12th-century Chinese painter.
Bosco Sodi's clay sculptures also follow the laborious process of working by hand, modelling clay—a combination of earth, water, and sand—into bricks or large cubes with the help of local craftsmen. After drying in shadow and sunlight for months, the sculptures are fired in a traditional kiln fuelled by wood, jacaranda seeds, and coconut skins. Like his paintings, the clay sculptures develop distinctive hues and textures.
While many of his works are untitled, Sodi sometimes selects exhibition and installation names that reference mythology and history. The clay cube columns in Caryatides (2017), for example, derive their name from the sculptures depicting young women that were used as pillars in classical architecture. Atlantes (2019), an outdoor installation of 64 clay cubes in a gridded format near the sea in Oaxaca, are the male equivalent of Caryatids in architecture; in Greek mythology, Atlas is the Titan condemned to hold the heavens up for eternity.
Bosco Sodi's engagement with raw earth materials has led him to experiment with volcanic rocks, which he gathered from the Ceboruco volcano of Mexico. Fired with ceramic glaze and metals, these sculptures contrast the irregular shapes and textures of the rocks with the glossy sheen of the glaze. Sodi has exhibited his volcanic rock works at solo presentations such as Malpaís at Paul Kasmin Gallery, Los Angeles, and Yūgen at Blain|Southern, London (both in 2016).
Bosco Sodi is the founder of Casa Wabi: a foundation in Oaxaca that offers a residency programme, workshops, and exhibition spaces. Casa Wabi opened its doors in 2014 in a building complex designed by the Japanese architect Tadao Ando.
In 2017, Bosco Sodi made a political statement with Muro, an installation of 1,600 bricks in New York's Washington Square Park, by encouraging visitors to dismantle it. The interactive project rose in response to the rising debates about immigration regulations and border security under the Trump administration, where the wall signifies invisible barriers such as economic and gender disparities. Muro has since been reiterated in the riverside square of London's National Theatre, as part of Art Night (2018), and in the group exhibition The Visible Turn: Contemporary Artists Confront Political Invisibility at the University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum (2019).
Biography by Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2020
Sodi (b.1970 Mexico City, MX) is predominantly known for his roughly-textured relief paintings. In this new series he brings together two contrasting colours in the same composition for the first time, in reference to universal notions of opposing forces.
Eight years ago, working in his studio in Barcelona, Bosco Sodi accidentally dropped a bucket of his sawdust, pigment and binder mixture on the floor. ‘I didn’t have time to clean it because I had to leave for vacation,’ he recalls. ‘When I came back it was all cracked, but I liked it.’ That accident became the...