Artist Spotlight: Concrete Bears by Ross Bonfanti at Aqua Art Miami

MIAMI—One of the highlights of the Aqua Art Fair was the rough and tumble “stuffed” animals in Room 223 of the Aqua Hotel, where Blunt Collective was exhibiting the work of Ross Bonfanti. The Toronto-based artist’s toy bears look like soft sculptures, perhaps made of gray wool, but they are actually cast in concrete. He calls them “concreatures.”

Bonfanti sources stuffed animals at flea markets and sometimes uses worn toys given to him by friends and family. He creates his innovative sculptures by opening up the toy animals, removing their stuffing, turning them inside out and filling them with concrete.

In addition to bears, Bonfanti’s collection of “concreatures” includes dogs, cats and a rabbit.

Once the concrete has set, he removes the exterior leaving a textured form with traces of fur at the seams that he reinvents by adding a set of eyes and a nose. He often enhances the animals further with fur ears, a fancy bow tie or by stacking several similar toys in a totem-style tower.

“Three head Ted,” 2012 (concrete, toy parts).

When the cast form doesn’t quite work out like he intended, crumbling at the torso when he peels back the exterior, for example, he repairs it with a wood stint or groups the remains of several animals together, adding even more character to the finished work. See more concreatures here.

All photos © Arts Observer

“Puppy c430,” 2012 (concrete, toy parts).

“Balancing Act,” 2012 (concrete, toy parts on a wood base).

Installation view of “Teddy Tower,” 2012 (concrete, toy parts on a wood base).

One of Bonfanti’s larger, stacked works was on view in the courtyard of the Aqua Hotel during the art fair.

Detail of “Teddy Tower.”

Installation view of “Big Head Ted c 433,” 2012 (concrete, toy parts, silk), below a “heavyhead” painting called “Pointing Fingers,” 2012 (concrete, wood, acrylic, steel), also by Ross Bonfanti.

In addition to his concreature sculptures, Bonifanti creates “heavyhead” mixed-media works on wood that feature concrete heads. See more of Bonfanti’s “heavyhead” paintings here.

“Big Head Ted c 433,” 2012 (concrete, toy parts, silk).

From left, “Hunk (Panda),” 2012 (concrete, toy parts, plywood, steel) and “Bundle,” 2012 (concrete, toy parts, silk, plywood, steel).

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