The Sculptures Of Nicola Zamboni & Sara Bolzani Part 4 - by Sunil Deepak, February 2014

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. These pages present part of that conversation.

Nicola Zamboni: Working Together

Note: All the images on this page were clicked at the home of Nicola and Sara.

Sara by NicolaNicola 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, followed by a veiled figure.

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

They also have another old building near their home, where young artists find a place to experiment and learn sculptures, so that they are near Nicola and Sara, to get their inputs and yet they are independent.

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Sunil: (While we were talking Sara was making a design on a paper) Sara, can you tell what are you making?

Sara: We have an exhibition coming in an exhibition nearby where both our designs are going to be put up. Nicola had already made many designs, but I had not done much work for it, so now I need to catch up! I am not so good at making sketches and I do not have the passion for it.

Sunil: 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 also got into it. After finishing the school, 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.

Sara by NicolaAt that time I was also working as a waitress because I needed the money to buy materials for my art. Nicola told me to give up that work and he gave me some artistic work like making holes in the bronze leaves, making small sculptures of fishes, etc. and he paid me for it. 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 teachers 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 also collaborate, especially 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 to complete it. However, afterwards we continued with it for many years, up to 2008-09. Since then, because of the economic crisis this work 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? Or should I ask, do you influence each other?

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 work we do. 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 and feedback.

Sara by NicolaNicola: 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 can say that the arm of the my sculpture is too thin or its position is wrong.. 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: For making the human figures in bronze, she is really good! Even if I try hard, I can't match her.

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

Sara: Our journey to Cambodia was also significant, in terms of female figures. The influence of Africa has been much less on our work. But from some journeys like 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 a 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 we 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 the people were drinking coke in the church and making loud hiccups. So it was a church prayer with some strange rituals and I can remember it with pleasure, but it did not touch me emotionally like this journey to India has touched me. They have influenced our work most.

Nicola by Sara

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They had a giant bronze leaf in their drawing room that I had admired greatly. When it was time for us to leave, Nicola gifted us a smaller version of that leaf. It now occupies a place of pride in our drawing room!

Nicola and Sara

(End)

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