Alain Bonnefoit’s Nudes Herald the Arrival of Galleria Ca’ d’Oro in Chelsea

This week in New York, Rome’s Galleria Ca’ d’Oro joins the illustrious ranks of the Chelsea art scene. Founded in 1970 by Antonio Porcella—son of art critic Amadore Porcella—and now run by his daughter, Gloria Porcella, Ca’ d’Oro has since become a leading contemporary art gallery in Rome, with a growing presence in the U.S. In an effort to bring contemporary Italian art to American audiences, in 2010 the gallery established an outpost in Miami. There, Porcella quickly found success through projects including “Mona Lisa Unveiled” at Miami’s Freedom Tower and the “REGeneration Art Project,” which was shown during Art Basel in Miami Beach in 2010, and subsequently traveled to the 2011 Venice Biennale and a 2013 exhibition in New York’s Central Park. Now, with the opening of the New York space, Porcella has partnered with curator, photographer, and collector Giada Baselice Pignata, who will be managing the Chelsea gallery, which launches with an exhibition of works by French artist Alain Bonnefoit, and a performance by the artist himself.

Born in Montmartre in 1937, Bonnefoit studied at L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and later in Brussels, then graduated and became an apprentice to Antoniucci Volti, a sculptor from the school of Auguste Rodin and Aristide Maillol, who made work that expressly glorified the female form. This sentiment is also felt in Bonnefoit’s works. Now based in Pietrasanta, Italy, he has become a master of the female nude, working both in oils, and also venturing into the traditional Japanese ink technique of sumi-e, which allows for a further breadth of gesture in his work than traditional Western painting methods and materials. With sumi-e, he explains, “the line becomes immediately clear, because the paper instantly drink[s] the ink.”

Titled “NUDES,” the exhibition of new works exemplifies Bonnefoit’s practice; in paintings and works on paper he uses a range of techniques to create lyrical and expressive, sensual ruminations on the female form. Only offering a glimpse of the figures’ faces, Bonnefoit focuses instead on their lithe bodies, building up contoured forms though long, loose brushstrokes, set in plush environments accentuated through rich color and spatial cues. These anonymous women tumble over pillows or stand at attention, presenting themselves to the viewer. In their poses, gestural quality, and palette—a contrasting compilation of vibrant emotionally charged hues and neutral tones—the works recall the nude sketches of Toulouse-Lautrec and the paintings of Egon Schiele.

—Kelsey Sundberg

Alain Bonnefoit: NUDES” is on view at Galleria Ca’ d’Oro, New York, Oct. 16th–Nov. 8, 2014.

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