TRON 209: Bruno Billio 

Gladstone Hotel, Toronto

The visual environment of Tron 209 by Bruno Billio, an installation at his suite in the Gladstone Hotel, Toronto, reminds us of the futuristic sets found in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 Space Odyssey. Upon entering, for a moment there is that transition that becomes a paradigm shift, as if it is an actual movie set, blurring boundaries between fiction and reality.  Earthquakes will do that. When the ground moves under your feet, that momentary loss of stability awakens monsters of the imagination, for a second one lives a myth, not reality.  Entering Billio’s installation makes that shift, an impression also experienced in the work of Ydessa Hendeles.  You become the change, you feel it in you.

 

A  minimalism core is present in  Billio’s work, it shows up in a pile of books stacked up almost to the ceiling, the entire pile silver or gold.  Another pile of book-like blocks stacked on each other painted in alternately shaded stripes. They look as if Eric Cameron had stopped at two coats of paint.  Cameron of course kept painting objects till they were unrecognizable. Billio’s paint unites these books into a pillar, with a nod to Greek temples. Billio seems to restrict himself to one move, one transformation; the transformation works, the move is genuine.

 

Bruno Billio is an interdisciplinary Italian-Canadian sculptor, installation artist, and designer, the artist-in-residence in his suite at the Gladstone Hotel, where he’s lived for the last 16 years. Each year he’s done an installation titled “Come Up To My Room”, transforming his space with one weird trick, one simple idea. Billio spoke of the studio in his mind, the place he visualizes his ideas.  His mental studio is large and expands as needed, the work done there doesn’t fuss over budgets. It’s this freedom that provides him the clarity of mind that appears in his work.  When we’re weighed down by trivial affairs our imagination cannot soar, but when we’re inspired we need the freedom to let our thoughts expand.

 

There is something noble about Bruno, though his father was a working man, a barber from Venice, who owned his own shop and was popular enough to make a good living at it, a man who raised a family where culture had a place.  His son the artist seems to have inherited the brilliance, good manners and refined thinking of a cultured man.

 

 

- Miklos Nikolaus Legrady, Toronto, February 2019

images courtesy of Miklos Nikolaus Legrady