First published: Fall 2014
Manuel Lança Bonifacio was born in December 1947 in the Portuguese town of Faro, the capital of the Algarve. Now a busy tourist resort boasting an international airport and a marina, and known for its Ria Formosa nature reserve, it was in the post-war years still a town of modest size, with a fine cathedral and several churches, encircled by ancient walls built by the Moors.
Here Bonifacio grew up and began to develop his twin interests, in observing the world and in making pictures. At the age of eight, learning difficulties led to his dropping out of the formal educational system. Instead, he turned to artmaking, and developed a passion for drawing and ceramics, a passion that has persisted to the present day. In due course, he was able to join the fire brigade as a young volunteer, although his ultimate dream was to become a soldier. His other great loves during these formative years included riding motorbikes.
Bonifacio was in his early fifties when his mother died; his father died a year later, in 2001. As a result, circumstances led him to immigrate to Britain, accompanied by his sister Maria Odone and her family. They took up residence in Cobham, a small town close to Guildford, the Surrey capital.
Mermaid, 2013, crayon and pencil on paper, 23.6 x 16.5 ins., 60 x 42 cm,
courtesy Galerie Bourbon-Lally
Manuel Bonifacio is a soberly dressed and polite man who lives quietly in a flat in Cobham. Places, both past and present, are important to him, and he enjoys regular walks of several miles, for instance along the river to Kingston-upon-Thames, during which he will sometimes pick up discarded materials to incorporate into his work. He takes great pleasure in visiting art galleries and museums, such as the G.F. Watts Gallery or Hampton Court, usually accompanied by his sister, some friends or the ArtVenture studio group. Such trips often provide inspiration for his own pictures. He still cultivates a habit dating back to childhood, when his parents encouraged him to jot down street names and to sketch buildings in a small notebook. He once put his situation plainly: “I like to walk and look around, looking at buildings.” Illustrating this, one of his larger drawings depicts a statue that stands in the High Street of Cobham.
This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #83