Bruber 1960

Bruber 1960 - Artistic Murano's glassware

Art and technique of aqua fortis on glass

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by Stefany Charlton Nash

The Master Bruno Bertoldini Bruber was born in Venice on 15 July 1931, more precisely on the Giudecca Island in the immediate proximity of the church of SS. Redentore (Most Holy Redeemer), famous for the pilgrimage of its devotees during the mid-summer Saint's day. It is here, on the third Saturday in July, that as if by magic a bridge is born, allowing the pilgrims to walk across to the Giudecca Island, which can otherwise only be reached by waterbus. Although already attracted by the beauty of the painted and sculptured works of the great Venetian masters, it was really the closeness to Venetian art - its complete prevalence described by the holy place in its paintings and sculptures - that captured the attention of the still young art-lover, the today famous Master Bruber.

In his early youth, the young trainee artist already loved to linger in the church adjacent to the family home, where he intently observed with wonder and admiration the result of the artistic talents of the masters of art, whose action has given so much to the island par excellence.

Still today master Bruber loves to look back to the long days spent observing the enchanting artistic beauties, sat in a more protected corner of the sacred place, with his hands joined between his knees, intent on savouring the essence that motivates a man to express so much skill of mind and hand. Indeed, the young Master often wondered what gifts a human being needed to express such pride, elegance and poise, such as to fascinate others. The days spent observing works did not trouble him at all, sacrificing hours of playing with children of his age, reaching his bed in the late evening after the priest had asked him several times to go and join his friends or go home straight away. But already from a tender age the not yet established Master could not divert his attention from art, from beauty, from charm, from the capability of making a human being linger in front of a work of art. Born from these assumptions was the desire to express himself as a man of art who was at times treated badly by the productive and quantitative requirement due to the production and satisfaction of the potential customer, but always drawing from his works that absolute need to express his artistic essence, the extreme desire to escape from categorical and often simplified models.

When he went to the "Istituto of Belle Arti dell'Accademia di Venezia" (Venice Academy Fine Arts Institute), he came to be cited several times as an innovator in the working of glass - a material still today loved by the Master - as an expression of material metamorphosis, of change and transformation. From here the need to seek further innovations and check on the studies of which material was needed was born, because, always according to the master, such material can still be modified after its shaping.

In such a situation, seeking his own individual artistic space, Master Bruber decided to travel around Europe, always in search of new experiences and infiltrations that would give his artistic expression an increasingly deeper nourishment, a sensation needed by those who are not identified with a place nor situation. He then wandered around Italy in search of perspective, around Germany and the Netherlands in search of technology, around Belgium to assimilate the art of glass doors, giving Liege cathedral's glass doors an innovative touch which can still be admired today in the city. He then returned to Venice to amalgamate in his artisan workshop the experiences he had lived through in ten years of wandering, above all experiencing new skills in the working of the Durer, i.e. etching.

Working in a Murano industry by day to meet the cost of his experimenting, and by night on his experiments, the Master Bruber found his own artistic vein when he was just past thirty years old. During such intense days he never forgot to visit at least one church in Venice, a place which to this day he himself defines as a subject for assimilation, concentration, silence, which still today allows him to find the necessary internal composure both with God and himself.

With such spirit the Master therefore expresses something that is wholly unique, sculpturing the material which he loves the most by way of aqua fortis mixed by himself, creating unique decorations with the use of precious materials such as gold, platinum and mineral enamels, succeeding in humanly sculpting a solid material. The working techniques are the fruit of experiences assimilated during his wanderings in Italy and abroad, in the search of motivations for which a material such as glass can express an expressive artistic value, seeking to eliminate a priori that sensation which is defined as superfluous, ordinary, well-known, very often repetitive and therefore limited.

The great talent of the Master, in addition to being artistic and innovative, has been to teach the most infinitesimal working details to his sons, Maximum and Stefano, directing them to complete the graphical studies, and then assimilate in themselves the differences between producing for pleasure and producing out of obligation, leaving aside the latter what is the true meaning of pleasure when somebody observes what he has produced with care and satisfaction.

The Master loves to say: "It is not important whether what you have produced or transformed with your hands is purchased or just looked at, the most important thing is it arouses a sensation, a feeling. It makes me sad that I was not present every time one of my works was sold, because I would have liked to convey to each buyer what I was feeling when I conceived it. How many people I would have met; it is enough for me to think that those who look at something of mine speak with my soul».

The simplicity of the markings and the ability to bring movement, the charm of colours and the preciousness of materials to a cold and transparent surface make Master Bruber's works - which embellish the furniture of houses or palaces - unique in the world, but above all create unconsciously an artistic and sensitive contact between the soul of the Bruber family and those who pause to look at just one piece.

Another phrase from the Master: "You always have the ability in yourself to distinguish the beautiful from the ugly, not that these assimilations become an arbiter or judgement since each person defines these sensations subjectively, but you stop every time you perceive these changes, man or woman, animal of thing, whether object or person. This will give you the ability to feel alive; it's important that you create in yourselves a pleasure of appropriation".

A man of art does not easily impart his knowledge and feelings, therefore to talk personally with the master Bruber is not simple. You need to know how to decipher what he says, what he is thinking of at a certain moment which may be concentrated into a few seconds of dialogue. But what becomes important is that he himself has succeeded in limiting his area of understanding, where only his sole followers, his sons, are admitted in its workings, the only ones capable of understanding the such bare language and the only ones capable of understanding his somewhat suspicious gaze.

And all this can be savoured by entering the protected places, the places of study and work of the Bruber family. Whoever has the fortune of entering is lovingly followed by all three workshop members, almost so that the visitor does not lose that sensation of the forbidden that these places give. I believe myself to be extremely fortunate in having completed a personal request of mine in a satisfactory way, but as long as I live I will never forget how much I have taken in during those hours spent in these workshops. Workers and employees do not exist, the workforce of this production is solely the men who hold the secrets, those which have created this almost surreal production situation. I have personally experienced the emotional shock from holding in my hands a piece created here. This sensation pervades me while writing, still now deeply moved when remembering how much grace upon touch, in a world so far from that lived together with the artists of the Bruber family.

I will be certain not to forget what that experience gave me, there therefore only remains the memory of what I have seen and lived through, not managing to make the sensations produced in my visit to Murano correspond with those which today I experience and can only put down in writing.

This is not an invitation to go to the production premises - which fortunately I was able to visit - as visitors are not welcome in what I perhaps wrongly define as a company, being so far from the norms which would define it as such. I prefer to describe my experience as a trip separate from time, where cost accounting and times and methods do not exist, where the flavour of a mark made with a brush is more important than a meeting to define budgets, where man and his personality count as much as discussing with a managing director. There are no machines, no robots, the only noise which you can imagine hearing when you are present for the creation of a Bruber piece is that produced by the unconscious, by the natural human intellectual brilliance to express his sense of pleasure, to construct something which makes a human being pause to contemplate the work of a Master.

Do not be surprised if you luckily have to wait one year to have a Bruber piece. Besides, to look at one means listening to the soul of a man who still today speaks through art, and every single time I look at the vase which was given to me as a present during my visit I manage to speak with him. Goodbye Master Bruber, 'bye dearest sons, thank you for having given me the possibility to dream, thank you for having given me the possibility to feel alive

Stefany Carlton Nash
Art's Personalities News

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