Borondo solo book
Produced by Chiara Caprasecca and Chiara Pietropaoli
Edition Yard Press
Memento Mori comes from the need of Borondo to fix in a book what has been, in order to continue with what it will be: in this book the artist lets us discover himself in complete freedom and honesty, opening the doors of his archive and showing an unknown part of his work, which represents indeed the heart of all his artistic production: the research. Sketches, drafts, photographic references, all produced by the artist himself and collected during those last years. Photos taken all along his travels and on the roads he walked on, or by who walked by his side. All the volume tells us about Borondo’s creative process and artistic work, since the beginnings until 2014, also trough four essays by Edoardo Sassi, Simone Pallotta, Carmen Main and James Buxton. A book that is connected to the street, and to what the street has represented for this artist: the freedom and the opportunity to base his life on art, and to show it to all of us. The street has no rules for Borondo, and if there were any, he found a way to break them. The streets has no limits, it’s never closed, it always exists and it always leads somewhere.
ON THE ROAD
Simone Pallotta for Memento Mori
Segovia. A corridor in dim light. A dark haired kid paints small figures on the wall, tiptoed. The empty leftover spaces are tiny portions of a white wall out of his reach. He will need one of the old chairs from the kitchen to reach them. There is still space to conquer up there. The first spaces dedicated to the game of art, a maternal and delimited freedom. Maybe everything starts from there. The history of Borondo is still short to be told, however it has an intensity that never leaves you indifferent, at the point we are pushed to look closer to see how it fits the world. As many others too, he loves the street – a place where life is shown in form of people and experiences, identity and human deviations – and he is able to transform it, as a few others, into his best ally. He is attracted by that, because it is a place of frontal communication with others, the neighbour, the stranger. “A place of imagination, but not of disclosure”, he explains. From the family home, to Josè Garcia Herranz’s studio in Madrid. From the maternal walls, to the house of his teacher. Borondo is almost 15 years old and Herranz has to prepare him for the entrance at the Art Institute; he recently visited the Sistine Chapel, where he bought the poster of the Last Judgment, that will stay with him for a long time and will disappear while he’s moving to Rome, in order to study at the Academy, years later. Herranz gives him freedom in experimenting, he doesn’t direct him but he spurs him, there is no defined research guideline, no forced inspiration, a lot of materials, he lets his pupil risk. He brings him to the Prado, where they walk aimlessly. He doesn’t put an influence on him, but he guides him towards the most original part of “himself”. He figures out the importance of letting him live his freedom as the main moment of inspiration. The Art Institute is no more than an interlude between the apprenticeship at Herranz’s studio and the beginning of his love for the urban work. In the street, he starts evolving from letters to puppets, then he goes through some “artistic riot raids” with social and political content, then he lands to acts of “reinterpretation of the urban space”. At that time, he moves between an illustrative accent and a communicative urge, he hasn’t compressed sensitivity yet in powerful human structures, in talking bodies. It’s 2010. The fascination for the man, as a plastic form and a complex machine of feelings and fears, is the centre of Borondo’s work, the subject for an analysis and the means to talk and ask questions.
Still in 2009, his subjects struggle to live alone, there is a descriptive will that illustrates thoughts in a direct way, with no need to raise in majestic figures which are able to talk with their mere presence. Today, his subjects has a solemnity, an inner strength that comes from what Borondo defines “an iconography stolen to the holy”, an anatomy remindful of Christ and Virgin Mary’s figures piled up in his father’s studio, waiting for to be restored. Bodies sculpted from the shadows of the nights, when Borondo comes back home and faces them in front of him, waiting for him. The gestures and poses of his figures, in their stillness and in their perfect and ancient anatomy, have a taste of Mannerism that Borondo takes apart with his courageous and very modern use of colour.
Man is the fulcrum of his thinking, the main character of an eternal present, which is totally interior and where the holy means nothing compared to the human depths. Man is the artist in a game of reflexes that projects always the same image. Borondo reflects on man, but this man is himself. As usual, others before him are a source of inspiration, it could not be otherwise, but before mentioning names, Borondo speaks about the use of “browns in Spanish religious painting” and about their being “poor”. A “poor colour” is a synesthetic view of the painting of the past that reveals the political and civil eye even before then the pictorial one. A look that becomes a daily attitude, a creative rhythm always focused on the inner world of men, us and him included. The browns and dark ochres are recurring on walls and painting works. Colour graduations that build livid and cold, dramatic and austere bodies.
If we had to look for matches, we would find them in some paintings by Zubaran and Ribeira, where light coldly illuminates the subjects, making them emerge from painful and dark depths. Also this darkness, which is used as a background in the artworks of these two giants of Spanish painting, has the same role on Borondo’s practice: a horizon that is always missing, except for a flat and unnecessary bottom, where the human being stands as a unique presence without a “before or “after”, but only a “here and now”.
“My work talks in present-tense, but looks at the past”. An inspired detaching from perpetual modernity, while stubbornly remaining an interpreter of the spirit of the time, an artist who is able to speak, even today, about the interiority of man through his figure. Lights and mixture of colours of the Spanish masters, but also more. Talking about this, three names seem to echo more than others: Kanevsky, Freud, Kirchner. A sort of a short art history of the twentieth century, a straight line that cuts it with a synthetic vision, able to look at the painting as an endlessly developing theme, landing place for many artists who continued to believe in it and never gave up on it. Lucian Freud and Alex Kanevsky seem to be quite coincident references for Borondo’s work, both for the painting quality and the constant presence of the human being. Freud, in his most successful works, uses the brush as a chisel, putting tonal spots together with such a violence that the faces and the bodies appear bruised, meat that has just survived a fight. Kanevsky, on the opposite, creates elusive and vaporous ghostly figures, human beings that are almost reaching immateriality. There is a painting distance between the two, and Borondo seems to be in the middle of it: a resolute brush stroke along with the evanescence of the figure, even more amplified in his works on glass. But there is more: unlike these two authors, he eliminates the background, he doesn’t add visual layers that go in deepness, there are no sofas, corridors, rooms or windows. There is no outside world to call to, no prospective that makes us look away from the subject. We are just in front of ourselves, the figure is the only and central protagonist. Kirchner seems to be, among the three, a source of vital rather than aesthetic inspiration. Expressionism is an emotional heap that tries to externalize the inner dimension in a dialog with the outside world made of violent colours, by giving tone to the feelings; it’s perhaps this aspect that fascinates Borondo, the pursuit of a link between inside and outside, between man and world, the will to create a dialogue between essence and material. In other conversations with Borondo, we spoke about Ernest Pignon Ernest and there is a reason. The French artist, like Paolo Buggiani for Italy, is a precursor of what we call today “street art”, confirming once again the meaning of this term as a “container” regarding various practices that were already active of the ‘70s. His works on paper made in telephone boxes during the ‘90s had been an inspiration, then manipulated by Borondo through his personal technique of scratching on glass that can fortify the communicational strength of the subjects, thanks to the transparencies that create a dialogue between the figure and the surrounding landscape. Other fragments of reality create a background of the artist’s imagination, daily visions that he brings, concretely, into his work, life portions that define him as a researcher in love with the path rather than with the discovery. He loves the street in the same way he loves life with its visual and emotional request. That mold, that unwittingly creates images, becomes, in a surrealistic game, the starting point of a work that uses it and finishes it. Like a texture of colour that becomes a curios abstract painting, in the attempt to cover graffiti. The water with its reflection amplifies the work, it redoubles it. The eyes are open on life and on the random gestures of others and nature. So he creates the “scratched works” on glass, looking at the white tempera on untenanted stores’ windows and imagining the strength of a sign that would cut the space between the street and the inside, using an imagined depth. The window of a train obscured by paint is the starting point for a layering of colour, that transforms the glass into a stand to use and distort the consistency of the painting’s unique level, varnishing the backside of it in an overturned work sequence. Many pieces of a vast and never predictable visual universe, visual solicitations that Borondo compacts in his research. He does not steal, he compresses. All the pieces are reassembled, cleaned out of slag and of the necessity to appear contemporary images, turned into timeless figures with no temporal references, no symbols of the society, the present times, the world or the culture.
The only external presences in his compositions are symbols, animals and nature. An intrusion that is the subject of Borondo’s current research. The symbol, in his work, is always developed through the representation of the human being who speaks with gestures, explains the concepts through unequivocal postures: the hands tied behind their backs, two bodies placed side by side that don’t touch each other and just able to shake a hand, a hand that covers the eyes of a figure that, in turn, occludes the ears of another. The evocative power of a static gesture. The animals are, on the other hand, a sort of alter ego, a subject on which it’s possible to project the unfathomable human fears and loneliness, they are the sleeping human instinct that dwells in their unconscious. An animalism from which we have to protect ourselves, which scares us, but is necessary to keep alive.
Today, Borondo is working on nature. He thought of it as a new interlocutor, the extreme reflex of what we are, the one and only element which we belong to and from which we come. He decided that it is our only referent, our only chance to understand ourselves.
To understand the man today means to investigate his relationship with nature and to prove, through its huge silent power, our ability to stay in the world.