Modern art moves with time

Observatory artist Tanya Bonello recently displayed her latest works titled Transcend, at Gallery 196 Victoria in Woodstock. The work is a culmination of two years of intensive work where she delves into her interest in space and time.

As day turns to night, sunlight gives way to rain and trees shed their leaves, life as we know it is constantly in a state of transformation and Observatory artist Tanya Bonello has created a work of art which, like all things in life, continues on a journey of change as time goes by.

Gypsum is the primary medium in the work, which is laced with gold-and-silver leaf and has a life of its own.

Over time, the materials react to the environment revealing an altered beauty.

“Like us, the work continues on a journey of transformation. I cannot control how the artwork will transform over time. I work with it to a certain point and then I have to let go,” says Ms Bonello.

The mixed-media abstract artist’s latest exhibition, Transcend, opened at Gallery 196 Victoria, in Woodstock, on Friday January 27.

The work is a culmination of two years of intensive work where she delves into her interest in space and time.

Written script and geometric patterns are carved into the gypsum and gold leaf, lending the work an archaic feel.

The etchings of gold peek through the marble-like gypsum creating an old, weathered look.

The geometric shapes in many of the pieces recall Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man.

“Leonardo da Vinci is my all time hero,” says Ms Bonello. “I believe he knew the things he knew through the collective consciousness we share.”

Underlying many of Ms Bonello’s artworks is a grid.

“ Max Planck, the father of quantum physics believed that the universe is connected by an invisible matrix – a grid of energy to which we are all connected through an invisible lattice of consciousness – we all share a collective memory and knowledge that is held in this matrix.

“The grid possesses an inherent vertical and horizontal stability and harmony,” says Ms Bonello about her piece, 651 Intersecting circles.

Another work, Universal Language, also features intersecting circles which create one big gold orb in the centre.

“This form is the arena and in it is what we know and can perceive,” says Ms Bonello. “At the edge of the arena, is the edge of the known universe and the words written outside of it are not any one language, the writing alludes to something beyond which we do not as yet have the words to describe.”

Ms Bonello traditionally works with warm colours but that changed when she was pregnant.

“All my paintings were blue. I felt that my son was a vessel or ship inside my safe harbour. A ship is always safe in harbour, but that is not what it was made to do,” she says.

In another room, Ms Bonello exhibits work spanning a decade. The pieces are swathed in blue and gold running through the cracks of gypsum.

She came up with Pray for Rain, the name for this collection, a few days before the exhibition night when it was pouring with rain in Cape Town and worries about the crippling drought intensifying.

If anyone would like to know more about the artworks on exhibition or view them in person, visit or contact Tanya Bonello at 072 278 1695.