“Art is the ultimate manipulation of our interpretations of life.”
Bruno Jean Grasswill is one of the most versatile artists in Australia.
He has been described as a "renaissance man" by some people, yet he isn't part of the Australian "art establishment" of galleries, public or commercial.
Like a Leonardo da Vinci who drew the arcane past and present, and invented the future, like a Michelangelo who expressed the strength of human nature and human beliefs, Grasswill uses his visions to create allegories and powerful abstract images to explore the nature of life, the value of our interpretations — right or wrong — and of our evolution in the universe. Like a Van Gogh, Bruno Jean Grasswill has battled to be understood.
Grasswill is sometimes referred to as the “mad Frenchman”, not because he’s mad, which he is often in an artistic sense, but mostly because he dares to do anything — not afraid of failure — using his own tactics of trade and "acceptance". Yet, like most artists, Grasswill has strong self doubts in his ability and purpose. Grasswill has no sense of the value of money.
As an evolutionary relativistic existential artist with strong attachment to natural processes, Grasswill uses positive aggression and trance, in most of his art.
He creates visual art using four main techniques from classical painting, photography, abstract painting and complex computerised images — all embracing life from the simple to the sublime. All are created to express a universal understanding (right or wrong) rather than show short-lived emotional episodical happenings. Grasswill artistic gamut is not medium-dependent, although medium can dictate technique of action, Thus some media are used for specific purpose, from cardboard to junk, via exclusive aged oils. For Grasswill, every action, as mundane as it is, is a decisive conscious artistic act . What is palpably expressed, such as paintings for others to see, is only the thin surface of a profound philosophical and artistic imagination and dreams, where acceptance of relation (in scientific relativity and relationships) is the major key.
“It is not a crime for fine-artists to profess many desires and various expressions, concurrently.”
Grasswill considers himself lucky to have great support in his ventures, from friends, family and his life partner .
Born in France, in 1946, Bruno drew well from age four. Encouraged by family members, he excelled in three-dimensional representations — and his early works in primary school were designed to mock police, soldiers and weaponry. Grasswill also became fascinated by nature from this time onwards.
At age five, like for too many children after the war, German measles ravaged Grasswill’s body. There were complications. The strong fever (42.5 C +) induced extraordinary visions in his mind — structured and shifting patterns and colours that made the pain vanish somewhat. Since then, Grasswill often seeks the present time seen through these fantastic chaotic images and their moirés. As he grew up, Grasswill was somewhat moody, torn between resisting or submitting to a school system that showed bias towards “parrot” learning. He had (and still has) a deficiency in memorising such things. This led him to develop his own understandings, right or wrong, which underpin his endeavours and desires.
In his teens, he suffered a massive nervous breakdown (during which he lost cognition — the ability to connect perception with memory), which took more than a year and a half to heal. This event helped him to restructure his understanding of life, existentially.
Grasswill matriculated in maths and technology — supplementing a draftsman certificate — and was then assisted to follow a fast-tracked course as a non-enrolled student in commercial art at the most specialised school in Paris, l'École Corvisart.
Grasswill produced his first commercial project — a specialist book — in 1964.
In Madagascar from 1966 to 1968, as a teacher of many subjects from mathematics to English, Grasswill encouraged his pupils to develop their own innate drawing skills as well as to grow their own rice. In his spare time he painted miniatures of butterflies, shells and birds — as well as caricatures — which he sent back to friends and his parents in France.
After working for two years in Paris as a photographer, commercial artist and conceptual draftsman concurently, Grasswill migrated to Australia in 1971 "for the adventure and the weather".
He worked for The Paul Hamlyn Group, the progressive publishers of the time, first as a layout artist, soon as art director, for seven years. There he designed many books, and was involved in many successful projects — including the first editions of the Complete Asian Cookbook by Charmaine Solomon. He also met his partner, Helen, there in 1971.
For the last thirty years Bruno has worked for himself in advertising, publishing, graphic arts and paintings. In 1981 he was a first prize winner of the Sony Logo Competition entered by nearly 30,000 professional commercial artists worldwide.
Via the production of books, Grasswill furthered his knowledge of the planet's natural processes. He was heavily involved in the publication of many important works such as "The Greening of Gondwana" and "Australia — A Timeless Grandeur". In !984, Grasswill was the art director for a fashion project where he met Claudia Chan Shaw. They have been great friends since.
During this time, Grasswill became good friend with Sali Herman, amongst many artistic and literary encounters.
Apart form graphic works, Grasswill has also been "distracted" from painting full time, by the renovation of two houses. He has also been "distracted" by gardening —including the creation of a prize-winning "organic" eatable produce garden and the building of his own studio. All these activities being fully artistic endeavours, though.
Grasswill paints in oil, acrylic and other media, such as computers — mostly for commission. From time to time, Grasswill holds private exhibitions for his friends or for the exclusivity of the friends of his commissioning patrons — corporate and private. Some of the commissioned works are portraits. Grasswill also sculpts with wood, concrete, plastic, steel, junk, etc...
Grasswill is strongly inspired by nature — its phenomena, from the minute quantum event to its cosmic dimensions. He is distressed by what we, humans, are doing to planet Earth.
Grasswill's website (goodtimesgroup.com) is a "work in progress" like many of Grasswill's projects. Updates may not show the latest works and the website is not an opus catalogue.
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