Saturday, 15 February 2014

Artists working together

Nicola Zamboni and Sara Bolzani are two Italian sculptors. I like their works very much. In May 2013, I had the opportunity to visit them and to learn about them and their art. This is the last part of that interview.

Nicola Zamboni and Sara Bolzani

Sunil: Sara, tell me about your artistic journey, how did you decide to be a sculptor?

Sara: At high school level I went to the art school in Monza. There I had a good teacher who did clay modelling and sculpture, so I got into it. He literally forced me to go to the Brera art academy in Milan. For the first 2 years I was with Prof. Giancarlo Marchese, but I was not feeling creatively happy with him. For the first year he made me do only sketching, without ever touching the clay and I did not like it. At that time I already had a studio and I was doing sculptures. Then in 1997, in the third year I went to some lessons with Nicola, and from the first lesson, I wanted to work with him. Luckily, it worked out and I could shift my classes. He told me to work with bronze, and once I did that, I fell in love with it. Two of my important works in that period were in Bronze, and I did my thesis on Nicola.

At that time I was also working as a waitress because I needed money to buy materials for my art. Nicola told me to give up that work and he gave me some work like making holes in the leaves, making small sculptures of fishes, etc. and he paid me. Some time after finishing the academy I started living with him.

Nicola: The personal thing between us, it happened when she was out of the academy and was no longer my student. I think that it is important to clarify it since I don't think that teacher can have relationships with their students, it would not be correct professional behaviour.

Sara: So now each of us has our own individual work but we collaborate when we make sculptures for public spaces. "The Humanity" project started in 2003. It started as a project for a school but we could not manage it, but then we continued with it for many years up to 2008-09. Since then, because of the crisis it has got a little slowed down.

Since 2001 after our first journey in India, I am also working on the theme of women.

Sunil: How do you influence each other? Do you influence each other?

Nicola Zamboni and Sara Bolzani

Nicola: Surely we influence each other. To be in love is necessary for creating art, it becomes the oxygen that you breathe. There are things we share, like our love for travelling, our love for food, our way of living. It all influences the way we work and the kind of things we make. However, we don't share similar taste in music, I love classical music while she loves Bruce Springsteen and Vasco Rossi.

Sara: Perhaps that is a generational thing.

Nicola: It is not generational, I was like this when I was twenty. My son, he is forty, he also loves classical music.

Sara: But the world has changed, your twenty years were very different from my twenty years. Coming to the questioning of reciprocal influence, in the initial phase of our work, we do sit together and ask each other's opinion.

Nicola: We are very honest in giving opinion to each other.

Sara: Suppose he makes a horse, I can tell him that in my opinion, the neck is too long or he says that the arm of the my sculpture is too thin in this part.. so we criticise each other's work. We recognise that there are some things that he is good at and I am not so good, there are other things that I can make better. So in our joint works, we keep account of these things.

Nicola: In some human figures in bronze, she is really good, even if I try I can't match her.

Sunil: Apart from India, was there any other journey that has influenced your work?

Sara: Even our journey to Cambodia was significant, in terms of female figures. The influence of Africa has been much less. But some journeys like from this last journey in India, there are things that will remain in my heart for ever. Kumar, our guide, took us to the village of his wife. There the headman, an elderly person with white beard, he washed our feet as a sign of welcome. I was so embarrassed and at the same time, it touched me very deeply. It was an emotional experience very different from the experiences of other journeys. For example, once we were in Mexico and went to a catholic church, where the floor was covered with pine needles, and every where they had statues of saints. Another strange thing was that people were drinking coke and making loud hiccups, so it was a church prayer with some strange rituals. I can remember that experience with pleasure but it did not touch me emotionally like this journey to India touched me. They have influenced our work most.


Nicola has made two sculptures of Sara. In one, she is lying down nude, her arms up holding a big fish. In another sculpture, Sara is surrounded by stalks of tall weed or thin bamboo like plants, holding her a prisoner, and she is followed by a figure in a veil.

Nicola Zamboni and Sara Bolzani

Nicola Zamboni and Sara Bolzani

Sara has also made a sculpture of Nicola. In this, a weaver (Sara) is making a quilt and in the quilt, there is Nicola's face made with metal wires.

Nicola Zamboni and Sara Bolzani


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