Mexican born, New York-based artist Bosco Sodi produces the kind of brawny ‘earth art’ that is intended to bowl its audience over like a juggernaut. A colourist, he creates huge, weighty, expansive abstracts that are often at least five centimetres thick with paint that has crusted and congealed, a result of the methodical scientific experiments he utilises when it comes to his art.
These experiments create an element of chance and unpredictability in his work. Sodi makes use of both organic and inorganic materials, merging together everything from paint to sawdust, glue to water, and, once he is satisfied with his endeavours he waits for the painting to set. At this point, he admits that he doesn’t quite know how the finished piece will turn out. Sometimes it can take up to three months before the work has settled. “I don’t like total control,” he admits. “It gets boring.”
This element of chance combined with total abstraction allows us to compare him to the inimitable Jackson Pollock. But, because of the sheer size of his works (Pangaea, his breakthrough piece, measures a colossal 4-by-12m), we can also compare him to one of Pollock’s contemporaries, Mark Rothko, who pioneered the giant canvas among abstract artists, saying that he wanted spectators to immerse themselves in his art, to feel as though they were entering another world.
Pangaea is an artwork worth elaborating on; spectators can immerse themselves in it, but they may also be swamped by it. Taking its name from the supercontinent that was formed some 300 million years ago, Sodi’s Pangaea was debuted in 2010 at a Bronx Museum. Lava-coloured, and consisting of six panels, it’s an extraordinary piece of work that spectators are wholly dwarfed by, and which propelled Sodi from a relative unknown to a contemporary pioneer.
Owing to his continued success, Sodi has been able to conceive and realise Casa Wabi, a beachfront residence for artists near Puerto Escondido. He says of the residency: “My dream is for the residency to be a place where artists can rest and recharge their batteries, not work all the time.” It’s a real measure of his critical success, as well as a testament to his desire to involve himself in the promotion of the arts, that he wants to use his success to foster an artistic community, using it to promote art education for local children and establish links between the residency and the nearby community.
Bosco Sodi is a 21st century artist who, some might say, by conceiving Casa Wabi, is attempting to recreate the glorious artistic community that existed in the paradise-like French Riviera at the start of the 20th century, when Picasso, Matisse, Cezanne, among others, lived and worked together, inspiring one another and absorbing influences from their surroundings. How Casa Wabi actually fares is anyone’s guess, but it’s nice to see an artist giving it a go.