Bernardo Corman loves the idea of artwork having humour. He doesn't want his art taken seriously and loves stuff that's a little off the wall.
When I was a child my father was interested in sculpting. He used to create little figures and had all the clay and tools sort of lying around. When I was ten, I took an interest and began playing around with the clay. In my pre-teens and teenage years Ed Roth and his eccentric hotrod creations from the 1960’s fascinated me. There were some really over the top and bizarre show cars that were eventually model cars. This really piqued my interest in automotive art. I began recreating his images with clay.
I’ve been sculpting since I was a child. It comes naturally for me, while it is a great struggle to draw. That said I have created a few successful drawings. I’d like to do more. It is so much simpler to create a two-dimensional drawing than it is to produce a sculpture. Sculpture requires anywhere from 30 to 100 hours on the clay alone. After that, I must go through the entire process of producing the end product. That involves making a mold, casting a material out of the mold, and finally the rigmarole of painting and mounting the sculpture. Whereas with a drawing, one can spend anywhere from three to six hours creating an image and at the end of that time, you’re sort of done!
Do you design your work to have a message or make a statement?
One particular piece that has a very clear message is called “Fossil Fuel” – it’s a car with skulls coming out of the exhaust. That was the first time that I tried to make a clear statement with my art. This piece is about environmental change. I love old cars but I’m able to recognize that automobiles are having an impact on our environment. Generally speaking, I try to make my work more playful and humorous. I enjoy creating whimsical pieces.
For instance, the Escargot piece, I didn’t even name it! I had that piece out on display at a show and a gentleman was walking past my booth. He looked at the piece and laughed, saying, “Escargot!” And then he kept walking! When he said that, I knew it was just perfect. The name came after the art.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Some of my best ideas have come as a result of daydreaming. For instance, the goldfish car. I was working in my shop and that idea just sort of swam up from my subconscious! I liked it so I made a little drawing of it and filed it away. About a half-year later I was at the library with my children. I saw a book called Chinese Goldfish. It was just a big coffee table book but it had beautiful photographs of the goldfish – they are so unique. I was flipping through the book and it just clicked that they would be the perfect expression of the fish idea! I spent a lot of time looking at those photos – what they fish look like and how their fins float. I sculpted the first three of them the first time I tried: an Oldsmobile, a Buick, and a Cadillac. Right from the very beginning they were popular. They’re whimsical and funny but with great detail.
One thing I love about this collection is that I get to dabble in painting. Most sculptures aren’t painted and I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to create some really unique and eccentric designs with these. This also means that each piece is one of a kind so it is difficult for me to recreate them. This is tricky for individuals who order off of my website as sometimes they don’t receive what they had expected.
Do you have a favourite piece of art?
I love that art is subjective. Each person takes a look at a piece and sees something different. There are so many different ways that you can look at each piece. For instance, the piece “Sweet Dreams” for me is an expression and exploration of mortality. It’s a more personal piece in that sense but it may not mean the same thing to other people. Perhaps for someone else it’s an exploration of mythology or flight.
One of my favourite pieces it the Escargot piece. I’ve made it in a few different shapes and sizes and enjoyed playing around with its expression. A version that I’ve always wanted to play with is with an old observatory with a telescope in the snail shell.
Another piece I was fascinated with is “Ten Thousand Laughing Buddhas Can’t Be Wrong”. In that piece, Buddha is sitting atop an atomic bomb in the bed of a truck. For me, it’s an expression of philosophic differences in the east and the west. In the east, the Buddha is an expression of enlightenment, whereas in the west it seems like the pinnacle of our achievement is to have produced something that could obliterate all of us. It’s a counterpoint to have Buddha sitting on top of an atom bomb. And then I put the whole thing on a Lowboy. Aesthetically, the piece is meant to give the audience pause.
I love the idea of artwork that has humour. I don’t want my art to take itself too seriously. I love stuff that’s a little off the wall – like Jeff Koons who created a strawberry in the shape of a Yorkshire terrier. I think that’s just hilarious. I love art – creating it and exploring it. And I’m so fortunate to be doing something I love.
If you are interested in seeing or buying the artwork of Bernardo Corman check his website.