Rules are meant to be broken and San Jose sculpture artist David Bottini consistently breaks the rules of sculpture in his pieces. In fact, the Santa Clara native has spent his entire career breaking the sculpture standard.
“I like to think of my work as more of breaking the rules rather than following them, even though my style is sort of watered down from where the rest of the art world is,” says Bottini, a graduate of St. Clare and Santa Clara High School. “It seems sort of archaic, but I rejected volume heavily, which is a big part of sculpture. It separates sculpture from painting … I thought it was too easy to replicate. Anyone can learn to replicate so I tried to set up situations that were as difficult as possible … I became very two-dimensional, yet freestanding, making it three-dimensional.”
Bottini’s background in architecture has led him to creating large sculptures, however, his home studio does not allow him to build big. Instead he works in models on a one-inch to one-foot scale. His minimalist style also plays into his pieces, which focus more on large planes and color contradictions, and tend to take a very figurative form.
“I’m doing very minimal, kind of painterly pieces that are two-dimensional looking, but they’re three-dimensional … One of the criticisms of my work is that it was very frontal. And I always said, ‘well that’s probably true, but the figure is very frontal.’ The front of the figure is more interesting than the back. My work is three-dimensional, but maybe less interesting on the other side. I wanted to work very much with color and plane and less volume. Scale was a big part of my early work – very large pieces and I guess that was the architectural thing.”
He has shown in galleries across the country, most recently in San Jose State University’s “Creativity, Change, Commitment: A Celebration of 100 Years of the Department of Art” show at the Triton Museum of Art, and has a large piece on Park Avenue in San Jose, and another at IBM, in addition to public pieces in Fresno, Hawaii, Oregon and Sacramento. And, unlike many artists who show their work for a short period of time and are rarely heard from again, Bottini has been able to not only work his entire career, but been able to stay true to who he is as an artist.
“I’ve always felt that continuity was very important, maybe the most important thing next to productivity,” he says. “Setting up a process where you can eliminate and add things. I’ve never betrayed my aesthetic. I’ve never built them for a market. I’ve built them to please me, which is absolutely mandatory. I’ve never cheated in my work, so to speak. I always went with what I felt. I never produced them to be accepted, which is the reason I’m still working, I think … Making art is something that’s sort of habitual. You have to do it. I found that I’m happiest when I’m producing.”