David Bonagurio: “To Stay in a Place Where I Can Continue to Make Work on my Terms.”

Artist name: David Bonagurio

Featured Work 1:  “Youth,” from the “Thunder” series


David Bonagurio’s vivid and soft gray-scales are beautifully drafted graphite compositions that experiment with weight, solidity, contrast and absence. Self hood, impermanence and alchemy are explored with an appreciation for the ephemeral, emotionally saturated and small. One series of drawings is called, “Small, Important Things.” Bonagurio told the Fine Art Connoisseur, “Nothing in our experience should be considered mundane.”

In his site’s artist statement, he explains, “The figures and forms in my work are representations of this true lack of boundaries and state of flux that we and everything else are always in.”

Featured Works Slideshow:

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5 Questions for the Artist:

1. What is art to you?

My fallback broad definition of what qualifies as art to me, and one I have found to be most useful, was offered by anthropologist Richard Anderson. He defines art as “culturally significant meaning, skillfully encoded in an affecting sensuous medium.” If you can check off each of those boxes, I’d call it art.

2. What did you make in the past and why?

My work now has become primarily graphite drawing. In the past, I mostly painted. The inclusion of color provides another layer of sensory input that can deepen an experience of a piece, or it can frustrate and distract. I had been making paintings which I could best describe as pockets of realism set in abstract context. I saw this as a pretty accurate representation of experience. I don’t think I was really able to pull it off in the way I had intended, so I decided to take a step back, simplify, and try to address the same topics through drawing.

3. What are you making now and why?

Mostly graphite drawings on panel. The explanation for the focus on graphite is a bit long, but the shorthand is that graphite is a unique and varied orientation of carbon, and so are we. My concepts float around questions of personal identity, consciousness, and humanity in relation to the abstracts of physical reality.

4. What are your hopes for the future?

I always say that my goals are to stay in a place where I can continue to make work on my terms. You’re never going to stop making if that’s what you really are, but there are always limitations and influences which can constrain the ways you work. I just hope I can manage to take on as few for those as possible.

5. What else would you like to say?

We need art and design more than most people realize. Everything around you in the modern world has been designed. Sometimes it seems like artistic consideration is undervalued, but we should always keep in mind that without it we wouldn’t live in the world we have today.

Artist Supplied Background:

David Bonagurio is a figure painter who was born in Houston, Texas in 1987 and currently lives and works in Utica, New York. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Drawing from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 2009 and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Fine Art at the Maryland Institute College of Art. He received his Master of Fine Arts degree in Painting from Syracuse University in 2014.

David’s work has become primarily drawing and painting, in which he uses figurative imagery to address personal and larger social issues which affect perspective and perception.

Explore his work on Instagram and Facebook.


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David Bonagurio is represented by PR for Artists.
5 Questions for the Artist, © Julia Travers


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