A multitasking Italian, Giampiero Bodino has a broad creative bandwidth, taking in architecture as well as the design of cars, watches and jewellery. Art director of the Richemont group since 2002, Bodino’s input is now evident in luxury pens at Montblanc, dazzling diamonds at Cartier and watches at Jaeger-LeCoultre. And in 2013, he created his own eponymous line of high jewellery – wildly expensive and extraordinarily crafted creations – that he sells from a beautifully appointed private villa in Milan.
The Turin-born designer’s first love, though, is art. ‘I’ve been drawing and painting my whole life,’ says Bodino, whose artworks first appeared in a group show (‘La ragione trasparente’) in Milan in 1997; solo shows followed in 2002 (‘Paso Doble’) and 2014 (‘Cabinet Privé’), also in Milan. ‘You know how your brain has two sides?’ reflects Bodino. ‘My work has two sides too.’
For his most recent show, which ran at Milan’s Museo Bagatti Valsecchi earlier this year, he created a site-specific collection of black-and-white works. Entitled ‘Imago Non Fugit’, it comprised 70 photographs, paintings and illustrations, displayed in the 19th-century mansion, once the family home of ardent collectors.
‘Walking around these rooms is magnetic,’ Bodino says of the soaring, gothic interiors that feature a valuable collection of Renaissance-era furniture, rare objects and impressive armour. ‘You have bone, brass, bronze, wood and paintings here. The combination of materials is incredible.’
Bodino painstakingly photographed every detail of the museum’s interior. From his 480 photographs, he edited a selection, cropped them, and then began transferring details such as sculpted faces or iron leaf motifs to canvas using three sizes of Sharpie permanent markers, sometimes mixed with oil paints. ‘I wanted to simulate the idea of old incisions,’ he says of the finely cross-hatched effect on canvas and paper.
The show was curated by Bodino’s friends, Donatella Brun and Francesco Gattuso, another pair of multitasking Italians. Art and architecture journalists, they moonlight as curators as well as PR directors for Lissoni Associati and Fondation Beyeler, respectively.
Brun and Gattuso are already working on ideas for Bodino’s next art project. ‘It’s not that I want to do this,’ asserts Bodino. ‘Art is part of my life. I must do it.’