On the occasion of Bosco Sodi’s first exhibition at Axel Vervoordt Gallery’s Hong Kong space, we invited the artist to share with us a personal story of an artist who touched his heart and inspired his creative practice.
When I was about 18 years old, I saw an image of a painting by Antoni Tàpies for the first time in a magazine. I don’t remember which magazine anymore, however, I remember seeing the black-and-white image. Even without colour, the painting looked strong and powerful. I immediately fell in love. At that time, I was already painting, but only for myself. I had no idea that I was going to dedicate my life to art.
My second encounter happened in 1992 when I went to Madrid with my grandfather, who was an important cardiologist. He was attending a symposium, and from time to time, he invited me along to join his trips. The encounter was during a group show at the Museo Reina Sofia. The painting was full of scratches and I remember seeing a cross; it was so powerful, strong, and intense with a strange feeling of melancholy. I was blown away by all of these feelings. I immediately went to a bookshop to buy a book about Tàpies, this time in colour.
The third encounter was again in Madrid at the Museo Reina Sofia, where I travelled with the purpose to attend to Tàpies’ solo exhibition. By this time, I was convinced that I wanted to become an artist and live from my art. I cannot describe how many different feelings and overwhelming thoughts came to mind upon seeing all of the paintings alive before my eyes. I spent the whole day going back and forth to see the show; it was so very beautiful and strong—the power of all the textures, the simplicity the imperfection; I was astonished.
The fourth encounter with Tàpies’ masterpieces happened after my wife Lucia decided to pursue a two-year Master’s degree in Economics in Barcelona. In order for her to study and for me to have a studio so that I could just paint all day, we decided to settle in Spain for an extended period of time. Just a few days after we arrived in Barcelona—when we were not yet even settled in our new home—I heard that there was a Tàpies’ exhibition opening in Gerona, a city two hours away and he would be present. Of course, I wanted to see the paintings, but mostly I wanted to see the genius in person. A friend was able to get us tickets for the opening and we drove there. It was a very special night. I was introduced to Tàpies and we had the chance to talk for a few minutes. I told him that I also painted, and to my surprise, at the end of the night, his wife Teresa invited me to have coffee with him in his studio in Barcelona the next week.
For my fifth encounter, I arrived thirty minutes before the appointment in his studio. I still remember the name of the street—Calle Zaragoza. I was nervous, but mostly very grateful to have the opportunity to further meet and understand Tàpies personally. He showed me his studio, which was for me a sacred place and then we had coffee. We talked about his Pre-Hispanic object collection, about Mexico, about Zen philosophy, and art. He gave me the opportunity to show him my work; he liked it and encouraged me to keep working. At the very end, he recommended a book that has been very important for me ever since, “Zen in the Art of Archery”. It was a very special day that left a mark forever. I still look at his paintings very often. Every time I go to Barcelona, I make sure to visit the Antoni Tàpies Foundation. He became an important figure in my life and has been very influential to my work. I was heartbroken when he passed away in 2012.
From all my heart, thank you for everything, Maestro Tàpies!
Antoni Tàpies (1923–2012) was a Spanish artist and theorist and is one of the most prolific European artists of his generation.
Bosco Sodi is a Mexico-born, New York-based painter, and is represented by Axel Vervoordt Gallery, among others.