Studio visit: Bosco Sodi

Surrounded by his prodigious, elemental artworks on the waterfront in Red Hook, New York, the Mexico-born artist discusses organic forms, unusual pigments, and art as life itself

‘For me, art is my therapy — it’s my life,’ explains Bosco Sodi, speaking in his cavernous studio in the Red Hook district of Brooklyn, New York. It is here that Sodi produces his distinctive large-scale works from materials including earth, volcanic magma and pure pigment, all acquired on his extensive travels across the world.

‘My work tries to evoke nature,’ the artist continues. ‘I look for accidents, for unpredictability.’ Sodi mixes materials in the hope of prompting a reaction, stepping back from the canvas when its surface begins to crack, erode, or blister without intervention. The appearance of the resulting works is dictated by a combination of human design and an organic process beyond Sodi’s control.

Born in Mexico City in 1970, Sodi lived and worked in Paris, Barcelona and Berlin before settling in New York. Today, he doesn’t appear to have shaken the desire to keep moving: the organic pigments he uses in his work are sourced from locations including Morocco, India and his native Mexico — the country’s bright hues remaining a visible influence in his work.

‘I try to find pigments they don’t sell in stores,’ says the artist who, in this video, plunges his hands into a bucket of something resembling liquid silver. ‘I never use brushes,’ he continues. ‘I apply layers of material with my hands.’ 

Sodi’s canvases are created through a process of intense physicality — a practice which appears to bequeath them a life of their own. ‘I really believe there is an exchange of energies between the artist and the materials and the canvas,’ he explains.