3 February 2023

CSU art curator wants us to talk about Bruno

| Chris Roe
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Tom Middlemost

Dr Tom Middlemost hangs a selection of Bruno Leti’s work at the Curious Rabbit. Photo: Chris Roe.

According to Disney’s Encanto, ‘We don’t talk about Bruno’, but for CSU art curator Thomas Middlemost, discussing and responding to the work of artist Bruno Leti is a decade-long passion.

Dr Middlemost and the esteemed 81-year-old artist himself will be in Wagga to launch their book ‘Bruno Leti: Series: A life of images’ on Friday night.

“Unfortunately, we had to delay the launch last year as both my wife and I got COVID,” Dr Middlemost said.

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“But it’s better this way because I was able to organise for Bruno to ship down a selection of artworks, which relate directly to the book and they will be on exhibition at the Curious Rabbit.”

Leti is a well-known Australian painter, printmaker and photographer who has been working since the 1960s.

Bruno Leti

Vivo, Bruno Leti 2015. Photo: Nicholas Thompson Gallery, Melbourne.

Dr Middlemost’s interest began while undertaking a PhD examining Australian monotypes.

“With a monotype, you’ve got a flat unincised surface, like a piece of glass or a piece of metal, and you paint on it with inks or with oil paints or acrylics, and then it’s the paper impression of that as it’s put through a press or it could even be rubbed with a butter knife or a spoon,” he said, explaining that he was drawn to Leti’s “technical brilliance” and expansive body of work.

“I found some of Bruno’s work to be exquisite and he has been doing monotypes since the 1960s and it’s been a dedicated part of his practice and that’s not common.

“He’s done almost everything in printmaking, including building print machines himself, and he is pretty much the master of Australian monotypes.”

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The pair have engaged over the past decade through conversations, interviews and letters in looking back through the artist’s work to find connected themes.

“I talked to Bruno and interviewed him for the thesis and I said to him, ‘I believe that you work in series, I believe that you’ve got a certain source or idea or place that you’ve gone to and within those, different series’,” Dr Middlemost recalled.

“He was surprised at the idea and started thinking about it.

“So it was sort of a collaboration between he and I, and we’ve worked together to find out where those series were within his work over time.”

Bruno Leti

Artist Bruno Leti will be in Wagga to launch ‘Series: A life of images’ with editor Thomas Middlemost. Photo: Supplied.

A draft version of the book sits in Dr Middlemost’s office in the form of a ‘visual diary’ that formed the foundation of the finished publication.

“It took us the best part of two or three years to write and get the book out there with the pandemic and because of the distance that we had to traverse,” he said.

“That physical hardcopy draft of the book has all of these images stuck into it and notes scrawled on it saying, ‘Text will go here’ and lots of handwritten letters that Bruno has written about different pieces.”

Dr Middlemost hopes that Bruno Leti’s visit to Wagga will provide a unique opportunity to hear firsthand from an important Australian artist and to share a love of the Australian monotype.

Information about the book launch on Friday night at the Curious Rabbit can be found here.

The book Bruno Leti: Series: A life of images is widely available.

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