Gritty abstraction: Abstract painter Baez Bonorat

Gritty abstraction: Abstract painter Baez Bonorat

"Abstractionism is still, for me, a vast horizon to explore. And I do love texture - it makes it a lot easier for me to resolve a painting."

MAROUBRA PAINTER BAEZ Bonorat works in IT during the day and as a painter of simple, textural abstract works at night. He discovered his striking style through trial and error. WORDSwork/ARTworks asks him 10 questions, to learn more about him and his art practice.

1. Welcome Baez Bonorat! You came to Australia from Mexico more than 20 years ago - and let's go back to the beginning! Were you a creative child? “Yes, very creative. I used to ‘build’ my own spaceships out of spare parts of old radios and electronic components of old, broken, small electro-domestic items from home.” 

2. And what inspired you to be an artist? “My main inspiration was my oldest brother, who is a very good painter. He definitely was my first ‘serious influence’. He kind of opened the world of art for me.”

3. So did you choose art, or did it choose you? “Hard to answer. All what I know is that art (in its many forms) is an integral part of whom I believe I am and of whom close friends and family believe I am.”

4. Did you study art? “I did roughly two of the four full years of art school in Mexico. I did selected studies – Painting, Design and Composition, and Art Theory. So you could say I am practically self-taught. I’ve exhibited modestly, mostly in Australia but also in Mexico, Switzerland, Brazil and Portugal.” 

5. How does your job in IT fit into your art practice? “The job that pay the bills is IT and has nothing to do with my art practice, although at times it requires a lot of creativity believe it or not. I paint whenever I have the chance and when I am not physically tired, mostly in the night and always with electric light.” 

6. Can you describe your method, medium, subjects? “I don’t think I actually have a method. Once I close the door of my studio and I know I can paint, I can start by doing many different things - and many times something that has little to do with painting. I start to organise leftovers of paint from the previous session, or tidy up, or just listen to music. Then it all starts. My medium is acrylics most of the time, using my own velatura (glazing) technique that involves oil - and that I learnt when studying. Since then, I’ve been refining it all these years. I have ‘adventured’ out of my technical comfort zone a few times and the results are not that bad - just to prove to myself that I use a particular technique, the technique doesn’t use me. I’ve also done some etching (dry point) back in Brazil and I loved it - it is a very different creative universe. I have had some brief adventures with photography, with some modest results also - again, another creative discipline. I started two to three years ago with some incipient attempts with sculpture (plaster and papier mache) and I loved it! I found it cathartic!”

7. Your paintings are mostly abstract, of minimal palette, and very textural - can you talk about this? “My subjects are 100% abstract and most of the time, a maximum of two or three colours. I personally can’t handle too many colours in the same painting while painting, but I quite like other peoples' painting when done properly. In my work, each colour has its own ‘space’ and I can’t force too many in one single painting. I intentionally stay away even from a minimal hint of any figurative element in my work, especially at the beginning of it. I admire many great figurative painters, especially those that somehow distort the image of whatever figure subject matter is, but for me to do that it would mean I’d have to reinvent myself altogether. Abstractionism is still, for me, a vast horizon to explore. And I do love texture - it makes it a lot easier for me to resolve a painting. Texture anchors my paints and without it, a strong wind could blow away the whole thing.” 

8. Do you listen to music while you paint? “Yes, always. The music I play ‘sets the tone’ of how the next stage of the painting is going to be resolved. A few years ago I rediscovered baroque music - and I can’t get enough of it. It was a period that lasted 300 years and ‘moves’ too many things within me. I also listen to all sorts of music, from ethnic music from around the world to electronic music.”

9. Who or what inspires you? “My inspiration comes from many places - music, artists, painters and even memories. But it also comes from a purely disciplined practice - many times all that it takes is to just start doing it.”

10. What has been your favourite exhibition in the past 12 months? “A set of 20-plus small (roughly 40c x 15cm) ceramic pieces that a group of Aboriginal elders painted, which were part of the Blacktown art prize. They were just sublime and very abstract.” W/A

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