Freezing Dance, and the Weight of Great Expectations:Sculpture of John BonSignore at The Lionheart Gallery
Alexander Calder was being literal when he said, “The next step in sculpture is motion.”
Connecticut sculptor John BonSignore prefers in his Toe Dancer sculptures to freeze a dancer’s final moment of elegant movement and gesture, and he so skillfully gives space mastery over time that static sculptures create a type of shadow motion—intellectual, even spiritual—that takes place in the imagination of viewers.
“I’m dealing with line and space. I create as much fluidity as possible, there’s always a flow. The sculptures are like a gesture drawing,” says the sculptor, who has three pieces from the Toe Dancer series on display at The Lionheart Gallery in Pound Ridge, N.Y.
Two large stainless steel dancers—the sculptor’s current immersion—took up residence outside the gallery this summer, while a smaller dancer from the past, cast in bronze, resides inside, where the sculptor’s ongoing exhibit also features a pair of works from an early equine-themed series, entitled Walks of Life.
While the Toe Dancer sculptures seem to defy gravity, the “old paints” from the Walks of Life series rest heavily on the gallery floor, freighted with the weight of expectation, rendered here in stone and wood.
“Before the emergence of the automobile, the standard mode of transportation was the horse. The breed of a horse, as well as the tack that adorned it, was an indication of the owner’s position, viewpoint, or wealth,” says the sculptor, who maintains separate studios for stonework and metalwork on his West Redding property.
“Horses were selected because of their breed, price, dependability and speed. Their tack and equipment reflected each temperament. Wealth could be displayed by extravagant craftsmanship, while other forms may have been done to get your attention with lavish embellishments.”
In one piece at The Lionheart Gallery, the horse—its head made of smooth, mournful stone, its talismanic eye a perfect circle—is also the proverbial cart at the same time. In referencing the old admonition about putting things in the wrong order, BonSignore sculpts a hybrid entitled Hurry Up and Wait that provokes thoughts about the speed of progress and the artifacts it leaves in its wake.
The other sculpture at the gallery, Walk of Life, features five horse sculpture heads, and copper tails, on a wood base. The tack tells the socio-demographic tale of the owners of these horses, which might be tethered to a rail outside an Old West saloon. That’s where the open-ended narrative begins for this equine echo of a police lineup. No horse is headed for trial, though. Instead history is on the hook for casually discarding once important nuances of civilizations past.
Maybe it’s the sheer weight of these sculptures that inspires heavy thoughts. Looking back at the Toe Dancers, all sense of gravity is lifted.
What’s happening with these pieces standing eight to 10 feet tall is as simple as it is complex and profound. “My sculptures become the physical representations of the essence of the subject,” says BonSignore, whose interests do not lie in representing the poses of classical ballet with fidelity. “It’s more about the motion and freezing it,” the sculptor says. “Dance is a vehicle to show the flow of the line.”
BonSignore plans to continue exploring the Toe Dancer theme, and would like to scale down the sculptures, which consist of a cast head—based on waxwork models—and welded body forms.
“I’ might try some yoga poses as well,” says the sculptor, who has shown his works in Maine and New Hampshire in recent years and is at The Lionheart Gallery for the first time.
BonSignore has a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Design from the Shintaro Akatsu School of Design at the University of Bridgeport. B.S., studied sculpture and ceramics at Arizona State University, and has a Master’s Degree in Sculpture/Education from the University of Bridgeport.
To learn more about his work, see the sculptor’s website at http://www.johnBonSignore.com or his page at The Lionheart Gallery website http://www.thelionheartgallery.com/Exhibit_Detail.cfm?ShowsID=91. The Lionheart Gallery may be reached at (914) 764-8689. The website is www.thelionheartgallery.com.