Giovanni Bosco

Italy, 1948 - 2009

Giovanni Bosco is a native of Castellammare del Golfo, a small town in Sicily. After two years of schooling he worked as a herd boy. He experienced an initial major traumatism aged fourteen on the death of his father, then two years later on the death of his two twin brothers. Giovanni Bosco himself was imprisoned for two years following minor thefts. Following this period in prison, where he learned to write, he has never worked again. In his cramped room, his sole space for living, Giovanni Bosco spent hours painting a graphic universe of rare power on bits of cardboard. Restrained and economical forms – essentially parts of the human body – are arranged with an innate sense of composition. They are occasionally accompanied by disjointed inscriptions in which the author mentions, among other things, his identity, his year of birth, that of his father, as well as names of Italian towns or Sicilian villages. He also writes the words of old Neapolitan folk songs by Mario Merola, which he knows by heart. The figures that emerge from his brush then take on larger dimensions, sometimes attaining a human scale. Giovanni Bosco marked his passage with oil paintings on the walls in the streets of Castelmezzano del Golfo where he lived. Giovanni Bosco thus appropriated public space, escaping in this way from the privations and the miserable conditions in which he lived.

Source: Based on Collection de l’Art Brut Lausanne

© Courtesy christian berst art brut