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Bona de Mandiargues (1926-2000)

La Lubricità, 1970

Catalogue essay by Blanche Llewellyn

Bona de Mandiargues was a Surrealist Italian-French artist, writer, and translator. In Paris, she met the poet André Pieyre de Mandiargues whom she married in 1950. Through him she met Breton, Ponge, and Paulhan.

After a formative phase stylistically influenced by the example of her uncle, Filippo de Pisis, Bona developed a figurative painting style nourished by collecting numerous aquatic, mineral and plant objects. Out of these interests, she developed an increasing fascination with natural objects which had the power to enchant or disturb – drawing her closer to the mainstream ethos of Surrealism. In 1958, Bona developed a technique that would come to characterize her work in the following years: during a trip to Mexico  she discovered, by chance, the suggestive power of the patterned fabrics of the region, which had been used to line her husband’s jackets. Employing a sewing machine for the assembly of different materials, she began producing fabric collages which conveyed a more surrealist edge than the more classic medium of her previous oil paintings.

La Lubricità (which translates as a slippery surface – a title which has obvious sexual connotations), created in 1970, is a collage and fabric sewn on canvas. In this oeuvre, Bona rejected the roles of women-muse and women-child, prevalent in the field of Surrealism, and instead depicted a snail (complete with black high heeled shoe), a hermaphrodite animal and androgynous creature, simultaneously friendly and repellent; for Bona, the snail represented the solitary, private and mentally androgynous aspects of her own character.

x W60 cm
Collage and fabric sewn on canvas, Signed
Bona de Mandiargues

Bona de Mandiargues (1926-2000)

Bona de Mandiargues (1926-2000) studied at the Beaux-Arts in Modena and then at the Beaux-Arts in Venice where her uncle Filippo de Pisis lived. Her career as a painter began after her marriage to André Pieyre de Mandiargues in 1950 where upon her arrival in France, she met the surrealist group. She exhibited in Paris at Berggruen Gallery, in 1952, with Francis Ponge writing the preface to the catalogue; Octavio Paz, a Mexican poet and diplomat was a big supporter of her work, especially of the group she exhibited in Mexico City in 1959. She also participated in various surrealist exhibitions including "E.R.O.S." at Galerie Daniel Cordier, Paris (1959). "Bona paints in a state of distraction conducive to lucidity, and it is undoubtedly through painting that she finds the long-forgotten path. She paints without knowing exactly what, or why, not as one breathes, but as one walks around blindly in an apartment where darkness falls, after sundown.... She looks at the present time with a certain mocking smile, in which one can guess her secret admiration for all that is inexplicable."
Alain Jouffroy, extract from the catalogue of the exhibition "Bona - Colimaçonneries", Galerie de Seine, Paris, 1974