Bruno Capolongo

Posted: July 7, 2010 in Dark Art Cafe

Soul Cages

Bruno Capolongo is an artist who looks at life from all angles, not just glancing impressions, but full-on high realist meditations: the type of intense looking that brings discomfort and revelation. In this first piece titled “Soul Cages” the viewer is confronted with a horde of people masked in despair, agony, malice, dread. They appear as the living dead under the sign of the cross: a zombie congregation. Looking intensely at the life of the church, many have seen this religion as a soul cage whose bars are guilt and condemnation. But this piece also offers a sign of escape: the little cage in the girl’s hand is empty and the door is ajar. Where is the soul in this day and age? Does the open door signal an escape or an invitation?

From the face-on intensity of examining religious life today, we move to this side-on staring at hopelessness: waiting for life or youth to end in “Grace Under Pressure”. I have worked with kids who see life slump-shouldered like this: waiting but not hoping. Capolongo sits us down on this track with this girl; he makes you feel-with her even if you don’t feel-the-same-as-her. Empathy is not feeling sorry for this girl. It is taking the time to sit on the tracks with her. That she doesn’t face the viewer is a sign that even this empathizing can only go so far. We don’t see her eyes. We can’t be fully inside her head. She remains beyond us, on the tracks, waiting.


“Mourning in Babylon #2” takes this another turn of the compass further. When looking on suffering we so often see it from behind: the other turned away from us, eviserated and starved. Keening on broken ground. Capolongo’s vision of life in this world darkens in such pieces and we wonder where this Babylon is and what has brought this woman to these depths, or why the only thing that grows is a spindly weed.

Dawn (The two trees)

This image, “Dawn (The Two Trees)”, is not meant to fuction as a happy ending to a dark story told in these painting. I bring it to light because it sheds light on what I perceive to be part of Capolongo’s worldview. His human figures are often tortured, blind, masked, suicidal, in torment, but even in these dark visions of human life there is an affirming of that life, an affirmation of humanity and life on this earth. The two trees in a rain-soaked green field are framed in part by two figures intertwined. This piece brings flesh and earth together in an image suffused with grey light, cast in part in sanguin colour.

In looking at a selection of Capolongo’s pieces you’ll see prophetic anger, unabashed wonder, clear-eyed compassion, and the gift of dreaming goodness in this life with all its youthful pain, religious guilt, and lover’s lonliness. He looks at the whole of life and in that intense looking sees and shows us both darkness and light. But more than light and beauty: hope in the form of human worth in the here and now.

To see more of Bruno’s work visit his website at:


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