Interview with contemporary surreal artist Bruno Pontiroli

Imagine a world based on a different logic; a universe comprised of the absurd and paradoxes. A dream in which aircraft crash into clouds and snowmen model a human body using flakes of skin. Bruno Pontiroli's aim is turn the narrow vision that we have of the world upside down and disturb our imagination while shaking an accepted reality with images that are as comprehensible as they are familiar. Distorting a symbol or mixing opposing univeres allows him to question the identity of things so that he can reinvent them.

Hello dear Bruno, please, tell us how did you find the artist inside you? How long have you been doing art? Is art something that you always wanted to do?

I always wanted to do art, in fact I've always been sketching, drawing or painting even when I was a young boy. For over 6 years now I've been dedicating most of my time to it, I just one day felt the urge to put on canvas this absurd and off the wall universe I was imagining. I thought it would be fun, and indeed it is.
What was / is your major influences? Other artists, books, movies, music or any other media....What inspires you to create your artworks?

I have many and various influences. For instance, I love the work of artists such as Magritte and Topor, Rubens and Rembrandt. I could name many more, but the list is would be too long! In reality, inspiration mainly comes from situations, books, images that surround me: the simple photo of a camel in book can be at the basis of a new painting.
How does "a normal day of artist" in your life look like?
I arrive quite early at my studio. I sit in front of my latest piece of art with a cup of freshly brewed coffee and take a critical look at the previous day's work, see what works well and what doesn't. I prepare my colors for the day and paint until early evening. Before leaving the studio, I stand again in front of my painting for a better appreciation of the day's work. Then I go home to my family and enjoy a few hours with my babyboy. Once he's in bed, I very often start going through books or surfing the web, it helps stimulate my creativity.

What ‘s your background? Are you self-taught artist or did you study art? Do you think an art education is important or imperative for anybody wishing to be an artist? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages that you have encountered throughout your career with/without the formal training of the Art Academy?
When I decided to dedicate more time to my art, I felt I needed to get better at sketching and drawing and so spent almost every evening at open workshops for the first couple of years. I learnt a lot there, practicing sketching live models. As for oil painting, I learnt everything by myself, using sometimes books and often referring to the masterpieces in the Louvre or other museums (living in Paris definitely has some advantages). I made many mistakes in the beginning, as can be expected, but that's how one improves and learns, right?

Of course, an art education is valuable, in particular when it comes to "thinking" a piece of art and communicating it. This being said, I am not at all convinced that it is mandatory to be an artist.

What fascinates you the most about surrealism? How would you describe your style? What themes do you pursue, what surrealism mean to you and what do you hope the viewer will take away from your art?
When seeing my work for the first time, people often refer to Surrealism and Dadaism. I wouldn't want to categorize my work, what I try to do is propose another version of reality, a different way to see things. When looking at my paintings, people seldom remain impassive, they either love or detest, find it funny or even macabre... and they usually share their opinion, discuss it. And to be honest that is what I like, what I am looking for.

What do you love most about creating and being an artist? What does “being creative” mean to you?
I like to always being "in search": of an idea, a composition, a palette... When I am standing in front of a blank canvas, figuring what I will paint on it, this is the most terrifying but also the most exciting moment. I also delight in this feeling of liberty and independence that being an artist procures me, even if this life is not always easy.
Can you describe your typical workflow when you ‘re working on your art? What are your tools of trade? What medium do you most often use and why?
I write down all the ideas I have on a notebook, whether good or bad and I sketch most of them, using either a pencil, watercolor or indian ink. One idea usually becomes the central subject for a new painting and I use some of the others to build the surrounding universe. Next step is a sketch on paper to confirm the overall composition. Eventually, I proceed with the actual painting on canvas, which is for me a two-steps process: first, black and white acrylic and then, oil and color.

Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven ‘t yet?
I'd like to bring volume to my art, sculpting is definitely something I'd like to try in the near future.
Tell us more about your workspace. What was the most funny or weird thing that happened to you in your studio? What is / was the most strange thing hidding in your studio?
I've worked in various and sometimes quite unusual places these last couple of years, moving from one studio to another every few months and therefore do not really have anything hiding (yet...). I'd say the "weird" things were the places themselves: last year for instance, I worked in an abandoned train station in Paris "petite ceinture", before that, I was in what used to be a water tower in the heart of Paris in the 18th century. Now I work in an old biscuit factory, along with bikers, mechanics, entrepreneurs in various sectors of activity, craftsmen, other artists, etc.
What toughest challenges have you faced as an artist during your art career? What is the biggest lesson you have learned so far?
If you want to make a living out of your art, making art is not enough, you also have to learn to communicate it.
What ‘s the best and worst advice you ever received in your art career?
Worst : find yourself a real job, you can ‘t make a living out of this!
The best is obviously to never stop painting so long as it makes me happy.
What do you dislike about the art world? What is the hardest thing on being an artist? Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
I guess that the most difficult thing for me is having to answer one very classical and recurring question from the public: "what did you want to say with that painting?". I don't much like the idea to be be the one providing the interpretation of my work because usually then the public only considers this very interpretation I gave which I consider counterproductive. In fact I am looking for the exact opposite phenomena, that each individual makes up their own opinion of what lies behind each painting and share it. It makes for a world of possibilities.
As for loneliness, I believe that being an artist can indeed be somewhat lonely or at least, that one can feel isolated because of it. Most people chose a more “rational” life, and even some of my close friends have a hard time understanding why I chose to do art instead of a more classical full-time employee life. However, every time I think about why I made this choice and how my life would be otherwise, I am more confident that being an artist is the right path for me.
Where do you see yourself in the future? Professionally, what ‘s your goal?
My objective is to continue dedicating as much time as possible to my art and make it grow. I recently learnt about patination and other techniques that I will probably use quite soon in my work and as I said before, I would like to try sculpting in the mid-term.
Do you have any tips or inspiring words for others? Maybe advice for beginning artists out there?
I am not sure that it is my place to give advice, but I ‘d say work a lot and don't listen to anyone.
Your favorite art or life quote is ...
"Ceci n ‘est pas une pipe" ("This is not a pipe") - Magritte
What are you doing when you ‘re not creating? What (other) hobbies do you have?
I read a lot: books, magazines, comics... I also spend quite a lot a time on the Internet, all of which being means to fuel my creativity. Otherwise, I enjoy skateboarding, even if it has becomes more occasional in the last year as I also like spending time with my little baby boy.

Do you have an online portfolio, blog or social medias where we can view your work?
Here is the direct link to my personal site I also have a Facebook account.

Is there anything else you ‘d like to say? Is there any project you are working on right now or any ongoing event or exhibition you would like to share with our readers?
I am between 2 exhibitions at the moment so if you happen to be in Paris and would like to come and see my work and at the same time discover this great place where my studio is, feel free to come by.
Anyway, I also want to say thank you for this interview, I am very glad to be counted amongst the artists published by Oh So Surreal.
Thank you dear Bruno, it was a honor to interview you, I wish you only the best for you and your art and already looking forward to see your new art works :)
By contributor Linda , 2015. Find Oh, So Surreal on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google + or RSS