First published: Summer 2024
In his art, Marcos Bontempo battles for survival by integrating his inner and outer self – a notion that could also be key to our endurance as a species


“These figures come out of the unconscious and I believe they have to be portraited straightly and immediately such as they come, and they need to be expressed as a sort of tachygraphy work that translates the message to the whole [of] mankind. […] In the dark and gloomy unconscious, all [of] what defines us as human beings piles up and comes together; it is over there where the quality of being of our thinking comes out, all our essence. Bringing it to light is a matter of alchemy, transforming all that pain in expressing figures, which thanks to its own nature free[s] me from evil in expressive forms, reconciling me and giving each time more freedom to my acts.”


Untitled, 2022, Indian ink, water, oxide rust, and salt on paper, 8.5 x 12 in. / 21.5 x 30.5 cm  


These are the words of self-taught artist Marcos Bontempo. Work by intuitive and visionary artists is often valued because of the creators’ ready access to images from the unconscious. Bontempo is particularly adept at plumbing his unconscious for entities that appear to be either angelic or demonic beings, as well as outlandish hybrids of humans, animals and plants rendered as almost flat silhouettes with abstract markings and patterns. These figures are usually delineated against a neutral background as if to emphasise their primal mythic embodiment beyond all contexts or conditions.


Untitled, 2016, ink and salt on paper, 8.5 x 12 in. / 21.5 x 30.5 cm; Ricco/Maresca Gallery 


Those who know Bontempo’s work are usually most familiar with his stark portraits of polymorphic figures, however he just as often paints landscapes, human figures, animals and angels in a more conventional manner.


Untitled (from “The Beastiary Series”), n.d., Indian ink on paper, 8 x 12 in. /20.5 x 30.5 cm 


Among his recent works are narrative scenes depicting interactions between humans and figures including earthly beasts, spiritual beings and hybrid entities. These works are not seen as frequently because collectors and dealers seem to be drawn to Bontempo’s edgier and more art brut-like material.




This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #119.

Back to articles

Fancy a freebie?

Sign up for a digital subscription and get a free copy of Raw Vision's special 100th edition magazine.