Isabelle Bonzom is an expert in buon fresco, a painting made with pigments and water on a fresh and wet coat of lime and sand. She creates original frescoes. She is the founder of the organization Pari(s) Affresco.
Isabelle Bonzom was awarded a grant from the Kress Foundation in support of her talk "Goya affresco" given at the annual College Art Association conference, in Los Angeles on February 2018, a spart of the "Working out of medium" panel organized by David Pullins, curator at the Frick Collection.
She is the author of a reference book on fresco painting published by the French publishing house Eyrolles: "La fresque. Art et technique"
"On the right, the fresco painter and art historian Isabelle Bonzom, founder of the organization Pari(s) Affresco and author of "La fresque. Art et technique", employs the technique to paint the "Octopus" fresco, one of a series of frescoes she painted for a private residence in France. The various stages of the fresco process can be seen here, from the first giornata with the underdrawing through to the final painting. Adapting the technique to her own method of working, she works on fresh intonaco freehand (without transferring the design), applying the paint in thin transparent glazes which are combined with incisions on the painted surface, creating contemporary frescoes which demonstrate the inherent possibilities this medium offers as a contemporary art form. I know Isabelle is listening to this webinar and I am so pleased to have been asked to participate on a collaborative fresco project in South Carolina with her, which brings together seven women fresco painters from Europe and the United States. Mico di Arpo from the US is leading the project, and fresco painters include Isabelle Bonzom and Anne Sophie Dumont from France, Patrizia Gioia and Barbara Badetti from Italy, Felice Indindoli from the US and myself from Scotland."
Julia Alexandra Mee, A Renaissance Woman on a Mission to Revive the Art of Fresco Painting', webinar for the Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh, 25th August 2020
Isabelle Bonzom, Octopus. Buon fresco in a private residence in france Photograph © Isabelle Bonzom
Her book, which was awarded a grant from the National Center of the Book (Centre National du Livre), is a study of the history, aesthetics and technique of fresco art. The preface is written by philosopher Baldine Saint Girons.
Review of Isabelle Bonzom's book, “LA FRESQUE, ART ET TECHNIQUE” in the French art magazine, “L’OBJET D’ART”, excerpt:
“With this beautiful book, Isabelle Bonzom, herself a fresco painter as well as an art historian, invites the readers to a stirring journey through time and space. She examines the various technical stages involved in painting a fresco, communicates information and thoughts, and deals with the aesthetical stakes of an art which is often anonymous although it sometimes bears prestigious signatures such as those of Masaccio, Michelangelo and Tiepolo. This is a specialized book, yet clear and accessible. It is written in a poetic style well suited to convey the passion which fuels fresco artists who work with natural materials and in a total symbiosis with the place where they paint. A book magnificently illustrated, “Fresco, art and technique” demonstrates the durability of this total art and its value in contemporary society.”
Joëlle-Elmyre Doussot, in L'Objet d'Art N°462, Nov. 2010
“Goya Affresco” : a talk by artist, frescoist, art researcher Isabelle Bonzom
As a painter, frescoist and art historian, Isabelle Bonzom participated in a panel curated and moderated by David Pullins of the Frick Collection, at the 2018 College Art Association conference. Entitled "Working Out of Medium", the panel asked what happens when an artist steps outside her or his preferred medium. Isabelle Bonzom discussed how Francisco de Goya’s rare fresco work informed his broader endeavor as a painter. At the College Art Association conference, she was extremely pleased to share with Mr. Pullins and the other panelists: Ruth Ezra (Harvard University), Karli Wurzelbacher (University of Delaware) and Emily Beeny (Getty Museum). Isabelle Bonzom was awarded an international fellowship grant by the prestigious Kress Foundation in support of her lecture given at the College Art Association annual convention held in Los Angeles.
The Compassion Project, USA
Isabelle Bonzom is participating in the Fresco project created by American artist Mico Di Arpo.
For more info about the "Compassion Project" please click on the image below :
"The "Octopus" fresco was a commission for a private residence in Provence, part of which is troglodyte (built into the natural rock). "Octopus" is housed in the basement made with stone, earth, shingles and tiles. The soil of the region (the Verdon) is made with clay and shingles. There are lakes around the house and I wanted to create a kind and aquatic monster, protector of the house. The theme of the octopus was also a good way to enhance the chromatic power of the buon fresco technique (only pigments and water on the wet coat made of lime and sand). The octopus is an animal capable of agility both in its body and in its mind. It lives according to its environment and goes through lots of changes in its colors and shapes. Those are the reasons why I chose to paint an octopus in that house, because buon fresco art requires suppleness and a sense of adaptation and it is a play on metamorphoses" says Isabelle Bonzom to journalist Margalit Molnar Goitein.
Excerpt of an article by art journalist, Sylvie Montmoulineix,
published in "L'Art et sa méthode" #59, special issue about fresco, in 1992:
"Fresco without safety net"
"Isabelle Bonzom makes use of transparency and quickness. She "prepares herself for fresco" with detailed watercolor drawings. She then executes her projects on the fresh lime coat, without transferring her drawings, without a cartoon, without any "safety net"… This technical tour de force stimulates the artist’s concentration as well as energizes her style. Buon fresco painting can therefore, as it were, capture from life the gestural and the inspiration of the artist whose choice illustrates a personal demand in tune with a rigorous technique, — direct "alla prima" —, which does not leave room for error.
Although Isabelle Bonzom’s paintings are mural, they are not monumental. Indeed, the artist attaches more importance to their location within a space rather than their size. The lime coat appears here and there, bare, as a background or a flat white plane in "Vie et mort d’un poulet" (Life and death of a chicken”) and in "Les Hommes de Saint Maur" (“The Men of Saint Maur”). In so doing, the fresco painter pays tribute to the lime mortar, the support of her work, a warm and living material that is unanimously acknowledged."
Art critic Sylvie Montmoulineix on Isabelle Bonzom’s fresco art, in "L’art et sa méthode" magazine (special issue on buon fresco), 1992
“The limpidities of Isabelle Bonzom”
Baldine Saint Girons is a professor of Esthetics and Philosophy at the University of Nanterre, Paris X. An art curator, she is also the author of many books, in particular “Le Paysage et la question du sublime (The Landscape and the Question of the Sublime)”, Editions du Seuil, 2001. She has published "Les Marges de la nuit", Editions de l'Amateur
"Why is it that the brush seems to understand the mystery of the support ? That is because Isabelle Bonzom is a fresco painter. She loves walls, their expanse, color, texture, and above all, the nimbleness of execution that they demand, once they have been “prepared”. Is it that the mortar is made of a lime as propitious to the birth of art as the white rain poured by the liming machine on the fields it fertilizes? Mural art requires, at the same time, an integration into the site, a sureness of touch and a capacity to anticipate. The brevity of the time allowed for work as well as the random and risky nature of preserving the retouches demand a specific concentration, as the mortar cannot wait. Light, thus, comes from the depth of the wall. Hence, an impression of freshness and vulnerability.
A fresco painter, Isabelle Bonzom is also a landscape artist. Her work is less about transforming the wall in its entirety than about acting locally by establishing strong punctuations that give rhythm to the space and redefine it."
Baldine Saint Girons, 2003
Pari(s) Affresco organization