The artist was born in South Africa in 1972 and graduated with a BA (FA) in 1994 from Michaelis, University of Cape Town. Today, her sought-after works can be found in private and corporate collections, nationally and internationally. Trying to bring to the fore a memory of our collective consciousness, Tanya Bonello uses a universal language that is ancient, true and widely understood – beyond words and cultural differences.

She gathers inspiration from History, Geology, Astronomy, Physics, Botany, Literature, Music, Philosophy, Art and daily life experiences, and adds: ‘I continuously search for a greater understanding of who I am. My interest in space and time is an extension of this meandering journey.’ Astrophysicists speculate as to what lies beyond the edge of the observable universe, the great unknown and these endless possibilities inspire the artist and motivate her reason for being. There are several recurrent threads interwoven into the body of her paintings: the use of material substances – gypsum, oil paint and synthetic gold and silver leaf – plus the thematic use of geometry and writing.

She expands: ‘Geometry signifies that which we know (the fathomable), the writing in my paintings appears to be unfathomable as a known language, and as such is representative of that which we do not know or that which we cannot describe in words.’

The gold leaf she uses in her work is a symbolic gesture of the homage she pays to the sun.  Similarly, silver leaf refers to the moon (a symbol of growth and change, of life’s rhythms, of ever-recurring cycles, of renewal). The sun represents immediate, intuitive knowledge, and the moon speculative knowledge acquired by reflection.

The gypsum and synthetic gold and silver leaf by virtue of their nature continue to transform or change the artworks. The composition leaf is made from brass and a combination of zinc and copper. In time it tarnishes, and as such is a symbol of perpetual transformation. Gypsum is a mineral in sedimentary environments: in its powdered form, under the microscope, it has a crystalline structure, therefore refracting light effectively.

So Bonello’s work is imbued with the understanding of the Platonic equation, ‘the true = the good = the beautiful’. The substances of her paintings shimmer and dance, humming with an energy which the artist has synthesised with the discipline of mathematics. She says: ‘Geometrical forms are vehicles towards universal understanding and as such these timeless shapes operate as a force, reminding us that everything is interconnected.’

For the full article see Habitat #265 May / June 2018


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