Bruno Leti, Series: A Life of Images edited by Thomas Middlemost

Reviewed by Wendy Lipke

This hard covered, 240 page, 24x28cm coffee table book has been edited by Thomas Middlemost and contains artwork by Bruno Leti.

The Media Release tells me that Leti tends to work in series that hold a continuity and common inspiration similar to that of an artist’s book. It is a longitudinal study of curiosities, with added observations by other contributors.

Bruno Leti, the artist, produces work through painting, drawing, printmaking, photography and book arts. Examples of each of these forms of art grace these pages and evidence of his other published books can be found at the end of the book. From 1983 through to 2021, he has published over eighty art books and his art is represented in national, state and regional galleries.

Thomas Middlemost, the editor, is art curator at Charles Sturt University and has a PhD in Art History. At the beginning of the book, he provides an Acknowledgement to those who gave of their knowledge, skills and contribution to this publication.

In the Foreword, Sasha Grishin asks the question, Is Bruno Leti a serial artist? He then goes on to try to answer his own question looking to art history, then says that this book presents a partial answer. There are not many ‘one-offs’ in this artists oeuvre, he tells the reader. Much of his work consists of revisiting a motif, a concept, a particular technical strategy, or a persistent memory. The major pieces in his art belong to a closely related family of images.

The artwork presentation begins with six self-portraits, bold and heavily shadowed, which are a small group from his forty 30x32cm black ink self-portraits produced in 1990. The artwork selected for this book finishes on page 221 with six images from Leti’s twenty-five polarised digital photographic portraits taken in 2010.

The Introduction provided explains that Series gives the reader an insight into Leti’s process, delving into the inspiration for series of work and their interactions across media, generally focusing on smaller works.

The art is presented on bright white shiny paper, sometimes taking up the whole page while other times it shares the page with text. When only text is used on the page, it occupies a small portion of it so as not to become too overwhelming.

Most of Leti’s work uses geometric shapes in various colours, some depicting fragments of marble from iconic monuments. Earthy tones predominate throughout. The majority of the works are either monotone, black and white and abstract, so it was a bit of a surprise to turn the page and find bright blue hues bounce off the page in the Sky-Cloud Pictures (76-79). Mostly the colours are muted and the images ghostly as in the Mantova series with the theme of respect for the past (72-74).

There are two series labelled Lotus Cycle in this book (40-43; 86-87). The first depicts Buddhist thought while the second is based on the golden lotus from China. The second series includes oil on paper art as well as one of the few double page spreads of the art. Several more pages of Chinese inspired work follow taking inspiration from the landscape, where another moody double page spread of a night performance in Guilin, China is depicted. The concept of dualism, yin and yang, where the play of opposites, light and dark, stillness and motion are integral to achieving balance and harmony, can be found throughout the book.

Other themes depicted in the art are shadows and shades (94-97); surfaces (98-101); still life and trees (102-108). Another series provides photographs featuring the play of light on the water surface of the Yarra River. These samples are from a series of forty which vary in size (58-61).

There is also The Neilson Lines series (110-117) which include monotypes, water colours, paintings, artist’s books and drawings based on the poetry of John Shaw Neilson.

The Cowra memorial Japanese Gardens depicted on page 123 is one of the few realistic works depicting the various shades of green with touches of autumnal tones. Another work where the content was sharp is the screen prints Via Crucis to Uluru, which ‘ is an acknowledgment of all people’s borne crosses – all the impediments that one encounters in life’ (136). The number of displays which are sharp and realistic can be counted on the one hand.

This is a well-produced art book highlighting the unusual work of artist Bruno Leti. For all lovers of art this is an interesting take on one aspect of art. I enjoyed my journey through this publication.

Bruno Leti

Series: A Life of Images


Edited by Thomas Middlemost

The Miegunyah Press/ MUP

ISBN: 978-0-522-87882-0

$69.99; 244pp


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