Bratsa Bonifacho’s work has gone through a drastic range of articulations during his long career as a painter. Continuing to site some of his earliest memories of surviving World War II as inspiration, Bonifacho’s work for many years was a direct representation of his process of moving through trauma. The weight and darkness of his experiences was evident in content, style, and palette and exists now in striking contrast to his current work.
Opening on December 2, 2021 at Foster/White Gallery, Bonifacho’s most recent explorations continue to utilize his visual language, one that was achieved over many years of honing his stylistic approach. The grids and squares within much of his work provide the grounding and comfort needed as one unfolds the abstract quality of his concepts. Asked to speak on his artwork, the artist answers it is all in the work. And therein lies the code to deciphering the trajectory of Bonifacho’s paintings.
Clear linear progression this is not; Bonifacho has never limited his explorations in paint. Early on in his career his paintings were highly evocative, highlighting the influence of Abstract Expressionism on his work, albeit decades later. American flags and cans of coca cola, recognizable elements of popular culture were coupled with painterly fields of color and geometric abstractions. These elements give an overarching sense of sardonic irony that hides instead of reveals the artist’s voice.
Work that was shadowed with targets and skeletal, ghostly greyhounds seemingly racing towards their death does evince strong emotional reaction. In these paintings we see Bonifacho facing the brutality of his memories yet still filtering them, creating work that is heavy but not grotesque, demonstrative but not reactionary. Preceding work that skews purely visual, this darker work clearly led to a change in direction, namely, towards color, a theme that has endured throughout the remainder of his career.
Color became a resting point between thoughts, a unifying element between disparate expressions, a dynamic and sometimes explosive portrayal of the artist’s movement away from past towards future. Language, both the visual structure and impact of, is a striking component in much of Bonifacho’s work of the past three decades. Varying from readable to almost