Artist to Watch: Lucas Bononi


There is a lot of superb contemporary realism being made these days; this article by Allison Malafronte shines light on a gifted individual.

Still life paintings of roses
LUCAS BONONI (b. 1991), “Dried Roses,” 2020, oil on linen, 36 x 24 in., available from the artist

LUCAS BONONI (b. 1991) has worked persistently to reach the position in which he now finds himself: an emerging realist earning the admiration of a wide range of collectors, fellow painters, and art professionals. The Los Angeles-born and New York City-based artist has been creating art full-time since 2014, a pursuit that entailed several sacrifices to make his dream a reality. To that end, Bononi believes in mastering the business side of his profession and spends as much time educating himself about marketing and selling his art as he does creating it.

He is, in that sense, a quintessential millennial: entrepreneurial, resourceful, and eager to achieve what matters most to him.

Bononi’s early dedication to building a business carried with it the realization that his finances (and life) might initially be in the red before he would see the fruits of his labor. The artist was willing to take that gamble.

In 2012, Bononi decided to quit his day job and live in a small subsidized studio while relying on a food bank for groceries so he could officially launch his art business and complete his degree.

In 2016 he earned a B.F.A from San Francisco’s Academy of Art University, and the following year — eager to uncover yet another layer of the mysterious art of masterful painting — he moved to New York City in order to attend the Grand Central Atelier.

Today, in his last semester there and with business picking up, Bononi has settled into a disciplined studio practice, where he creates stylistically multi-dimensional paintings like the striking “Dried Roses,” pictured above.

This still life was created in April 2020, relatively early in the COVID-19 lockdown, and captures the tense and wild mix of emotions the world was facing then.

“Roses have been the subject of many beautiful paintings in history,” the artist says. “In ‘Dried Roses’ I wanted to capture these flowers after they had wilted and dried up in an attempt to bring them back to life through color and brushwork.”

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