Paola Boni is an artist who is perhaps a little at odds with current trends, as she acts on the positive, the desire to feel good while working, the desire to bring out that healthy childlike ingenuity that is now hidden too deep in each of us .
She does not have a favourite theme on which she focuses, and not even a recurring subject, what characterises her is the care and love she puts into every detail that gives life to her works.
I happened to see her paintings exhibited at the show in Parma, and while I was captured by the use of warm colour and rounded shapes, I heard a girl behind me say: “finally a bit of positivity! The other artists are all gloomy, and you never understand what they want to convey”. This sentence made me think of the need that the public has to not necessarily find the indelible signs of what society is experiencing in this period in art; perhaps it is the unconscious desire for a burst of positivism to escape from the increasingly hectic and repetitive everyday life that has characterised recent years.
There are already many problems related to politics, society, economics and work presented daily in all ways by mainstream media, perhaps finding a way to lose yourself is not such a bad thing.
More and more often we read that culture must re-educate the population … and how can it manage to attract them if not through a form of pleasure.
Art for art’s sake… not really. I would not define Paola;s art as art for art’s sake, her works are not purely aseptic and repetitive technicalities or sterile cases; her works contain the intimate desire to feel good while she works, and to transmit serenity.
There are not too many meanings that go to investigate reality… there is reality or the reality the artist would like to create.
Boni is a self-taught artist who stands out for her ability to analyse details and transfer them to the canvas with an internalised observation; her works do not take part in the age old competition with the camera, as one of the fathers of hyper-realism, the American Chuck Close, has already affirmed: “The camera is objective. When dealing with a face, it makes no distinction between nose and cheek. The machine does not know what it is observing, it reproduces everything. I want to deal with this black-and-white reproduction,” he says,”which is two-dimensional and full of superficial details”.
It is precisely these details that attract and fascinate those who observe Boni’s works for the vividness and meticulousness of the production.
She started experimenting with different techniques, then discovered pastels, which she loves as they mean she doesn’t have to have colour and cardboard between her fingers. She also discovered that the smallest “brush” at her disposal was her own little finger . Then, out of curiosity, she approaches oil, which satisfies her above all when applied to hyper-realism, but she is constantly looking for techniques capable of making the most out of what she has in mind and for some time she has included paste in her works, which, when modelled and amalgamated, give a three-dimensional aspect to images and emotions.
In recent years, Paola Boni has dedicated herself to a series of paintings that biunivocally combine comics with a consumer object made hyper-realistically.
We come across a sweet dumbo that winks while he is about to eat a Tronky, or the witch Amelia who in this context does not want to challenge Scrooge with her magic wand, but uses a famous lipstick to bewitch the public, and then Wile E. Coyote who, always busy in the manic and never fruitful pursuit of Road Runner, after trying all the tricks possible to capture his mocking and colourful challenger, resorts to the powerful Red Bull to attempt the impossible. With this operation, Boni makes the viewers an active part, asking them to pick up the underlying irony in the picture, as it provides the cards to arrive at the solution, but does not explicitly reveal it, in fact the phrase that accompanies the well-known drink in all ads does not appear since it is now common knowledge that it is able to “give you wings”, and will it be those that help our Wile to reach the very fast Beep Beep?
The interest in comics is revealed if we allow ourselves to be caught by the gaze of Dumbo, a work that the artist has at the entrance of her bedroom, and which greets her every morning; she would really hug him if she could because he puts her in a good mood wishing her a good day every day. Precisely the will to go beyond reality, but why immerse herself in comics? The answer is simple and in line with the transparency of Boni, that is because comics bring joy, allow her to let out that child who smiles and jumps inside her, because she says “I’m old, but I am not grown up. Comics open my heart, they take me back to when I was a child, when reading a comic book allowed me to forget the things that happen every day … my Dumbo, sometimes I would hug him. It is true that it is a comic book, but the desire is to make him real and, with a hyper-real object, it is as if I brought him into everyday life, really bringing him to life”.
Another theme dear to the tradition of hyper-realism that is also addressed by the Boni is the presence of cars or motorcycles that rule the paintings becoming real protagonists of continuous references to details and glitter.
She chooses these subjects because they allow her to experiment, to challenge herself to make the effect shiny, because a car body is a continuous play of reflections between lights and shadows; the sheet metal shows everything mirrored, but slightly deformed according to the curvature, therefore it does not display reality exactly as it is, but how it is interpreted; By the way, Boni says “making a car or a bike is like making a glass, a bottle, … in short, like glass that has so many transparencies, so many lights and if you can make them real, it’s spectacular!”
The fascinating spectacle of reality, of the naturalness of things, of the attention to detail that only an accurate and profound sensitivity can give, the child in me who comes out, dwelling on the small details and enhancing the genuineness of simplicity, this is what the works of Paola Boni convey: a different way of dealing with the speed that society imposes on us, with the short term… with massification. The actual time to make a painting, to study it, to assimilate the image in its entirety goes against this need to run, rather it requires a pause, a space, contact with the details of the “little things” that make up our lives and our memories.