Fonseca was born in New York to a family of artists. His younger brother Caio Fonseca is a well known contemporary painter. His father, Gonzalo Fonseca, was an Uruguayan sculptor. Fonseca suffered from dyslexia and stuttering as a child, conditions so severe he was treated by a psychiatrist. Fonseca was able to compensate for his verbal difficulties with a tremendous visual fluency, reproducing paintings by Michelangelo and other Great Masters at an early age. Raised in a house on West Eleventh Street in Greenwich Village, Fonseca studied at the Dalton School in Manhattan and St. Ann's School in Brooklyn Heights. Fonseca failed to graduate from high school and at age 18, he moved to Barcelona, where he studied with Augusto Torres. Fonseca lived in Barcelona until 1993, when he returned to New York a few months before his death.
Fonseca had what his sister called "a slightly perverse anti-taste for exquisite goods and 'luxuries' of all kinds." He preferred old objects, old clothes and junk that he collected from the streets of Barcelona. He chose to live in Barcelona's red-light district, among the city's poor, cripples, addicts, street girls, and bohemians.
Late in his life, Fonseca painted four large paintings known as "The War Murals" depicting scenes of warfare. The individual works are titled Tank (oil on canvas, 208.2 x 269.2 cm) Fire (oil on canvas, 207 x 284.5 cm), Bucharest (oil on canvas, 208.2 x 279.4 cm), and Timişoara (oil on canvas, 210.8 x 271.7 cm). One writer described the anti-war theme in "The War Murals", begun in 1989 and finished in 1993, as "the most powerful statement of their kind since Picasso's great Guernica." The murals were inspired by images of boy soldiers torn from the newspaper and by images of violence in Eastern Europe, including the public execution of Nicolae Ceauşescu. His sister recalled watching scenes of the upheavals in Eastern Europe on CNN with Bruno and wrote: "The War Murals - Bruno's four larger narrative paintings inspired by the anti-communist upheavals - represent his greatest synthesis of abstract and representational painting, something he had struggled for throughout his working life." Fonseca worked on the murals for several years, finishing them while he was suffering from the effects of AIDS. A public showing of "The War Murals" was the opening exhibition for the John McEnroe Gallery in SoHo in January 1994. Fonseca also had a solo show at New York's Salander-O'Reilly in 1993.
Bruno Fonseca: The Secret Life of Painting
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Abbeville Press (August 1, 2000)
Amazon: Bruno Fonseca: The Secret Life of Painting
A celebration of a brilliant young artist's tragically short career, this revealing look at Bruno Fonseca's life, unorthodox training, and startlingly diverse paintings, drawings, and sculpture not only casts light on his own impressive work but also offers unusually acute insight into the creative process. The son of a sculptor and a painter mother, Bruno Fonseca grew up in an art-filled Manhattan household and started creating his own art in early childhood. By the age of 18, he had started a rigorous course of study with Augusto Torres in Manhattan, where he maintained a studio until his death at age 36 in 1994.
Alan Jenkins's perceptive musings about the young artist's accomplishments capture Bruno's quirky charm and summon up the complexity of his relationships with family, friends, and the history of art. Karen Wilkin investigates Fonseca's throwback approach to the study of art, based on painstakingly learned ways of seeing and creating that relate more to the 19th-century Academy than to today's conceptualizing, career-chasing art schools. Isabel Fonseca's deeply touching memoir of her brother's childhood and last days brings to life his irresistible spirit and quicksilver intelligence.
More Artists at my website: www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Art
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