Conversations with an Artist: Mason Bowen Bondi
We love Mason Bowen Bondi's way of seeing. There is both the familiar and the absence of details that intrigue. His single figures are as if plucked out of context. "There's something about the imagery as if an apparition. Separated from the landscape, the context–animal imagery and animal magic. The interplay between man and the wild animal realm," Mason told us. His work is now on display at the shop.
Describe the moment you realized art fed your soul.
As a child I would get really excited when my parents had dinner parties. We have beautiful old family silverware and my brother and I would be asked to set the table. I would make the table look really nice, do interesting things with center pieces, and soon my vision would expand into the room, moving objects, lighting candles, placing flowers in certain spots. These are some of my earliest memories of having a creative vision– making a series of selections and decisions headed towards an image.
I remember being totally engrossed and focused; now I feel this when painting.
What themes do you pursue in your art?
I explore themes of the West, the American, the familiar and the Familiar– of the family and of the relationship between animals and people, and people and places.
Elk / 48x48 / Oil and spray paint on canvas
Tell us about what influences the direction for your work.
I have been very influenced by my Mother, Susan Bondi, she is also a painter and she taught me to paint over the phone, explaining how to blend colors with oil paint. I lived in Portland at the time and she told me how to lay down the three colors and then use a dry brush to blend them. It worked and I was amazed. I have always admired her use of color and the simplicity of her composition.
After a time of painting I began to feel the influence of the places I was spending time, like Idaho or even in Richmond, CA where I had a studio for a time. The influence of place was most apparent during my time in Idaho and Montana. Being there did make me want to paint animals. And I did want to paint the colors of the evening and the large scale and space.
I also see now that I have been influenced by people in my life. I have made many paintings of boyfriends and family members– the familiar set of characters of a certain time. I love this idea– these important people showing up in the imagined space of a painting.
Dark Horse / 60x60 / Oil on canvas
How has your art developed over time?
When I began painting I tried hard to be representational and make things look like they would in real life. In my current work I feel a lot more freedom to omit and depart from reality. I let myself choose colors that feel right more than look right, select compositions that interest me rather than perform certain perspectives. This has certainly been a development for me.
What’s the most indispensable item in your studio?
The table. I absolutely love making a giant mess and then setting it all back right again before starting to work. It is a cathartic moment for me. I found these huge tables online and I can really make a big mess now!
Do you collect anything?
I collect Lindt-Stymeist Colorways tableware.
What’s the most inspiring thing you’ve seen, read, watched or listened to recently?
I recently watched “Paris Is Burning” a film about transgender people in New York in the 70’s and 80’s– it was incredible. I was amazed by how ahead of the time these people were. I loved the dancing and the combination of elegance and ambition.
Donkey / 24x24 / Oil and chalk on canvas
What advice would you give to your younger self about your artistic journey?
I would encourage my younger self to trust the vision– a lot of these things you see will come to pass.
Bronze Goat (+ Dark Horse) / 16x16 / Bronze
We found ourselves compelled by Mason's paintings–drawn to this collection that was from his red period. These very powerful, evocative and yet sensitive portraits make a lasting imprint. Come see them if you're local or local-ish. Or we're happy to ship anywhere.
See you soon,
Bonnie & Jeffrey