Alfio Bonanno has had a full life in the arts, as an art maker and teacher, but he’s not done yet, far from it. Now in his 60’s, the Italian born, Australian raised, Danish citizen has his sights set on his most ambitious project to date; the creation of an arts center on the island of Langeland. I sat down with Alfio at his home in Rudkøbing last week. The 18th century townhouse he shares with his wife, Lone, is filled with his paintings and sculpture. But his past work was not on his mind as he explained the premise of his unfolding plan. The center will be a state-of-the-art “green” building, a science laboratory in its own right, set among fields and woods. The building and grounds will be the supporting and informing elements for the art that will be created, displayed and archived there. He’s already headed the creation of one of the most highly regarded environmental art parks in Europe. Tranekaer International Centre for Art and Nature (TICKON) opened in 1993 with 14 works by Danish and international artists. It is now Alfio’s dream to expand on the landscape-garden with the new art center. Its concept is radical, in my experience, and one that I believe has great value for the arts as we move into the 21st century. In Alfio’s scheme, art is the medium through which nature and science are translated into new understandings.
I was first introduced to Alfio Bonanno’s environmental sculpture on a visit to TICKON in 2006. His piece, “Between the copper beach and the oak,” 2001, struck me as a well balanced meeting of site, materials, form and structure. The work has retained its presence over the past years and, on re-viewing last week, feels even more compelling. It has earned it’s place among the great old trees that surround it.