In the Media
We are so grateful to have been featured in several fantastic publications and galleries such as Lahaina Galleries, Hawaii Magazine, and Maui No Ka Oi Magazine. To be recognized for our efforts serves as a continuous inspiration to live our dream. Futhermore, to be recognized so artfully by these talented wordsmiths is downright flattering.
Please enjoy this art about our art. As always, we are just glad that our work can make such an impact. We will continue giving our best to create paintings that speak to you artistically and express the love that we put into them – and we are always honored to hear from you!
Eyes of Aloha
“Alessio and Marcello Bugagiar have forged a new creative concept using oils on native “Koa” to depict traditional images of Hawaiian life in compositions that transcend both past and present. Much like a sculptor discovers the shape hidden inside a block of wood, these artists unveil the forms within the lustrous surfaces as part of a representational painting. In the folds of a colorful pareau, in the waves of reclining women’s long loose hair, or in the curves of an outrigger canoe hull, they carefully select the exact areas to leave unpainted which allow the ebb and flow of the lustrous Koa grain to shine through. Just as “haute couture” elevates mere clothing to fashion, the artists Bugagiar elevate koa to a pure artform.
Too, it is the juxtaposition of the classic and the contemporary, the European and the Hawaiian that sets these paintings apart. In one, a young “wahine” poses in the style of Michelangelo yet her perch is a Koa canoe on a secluded Maui beach. Both her hair and the tree are left unpainted with the oils creating her body, sand, and sea. In another, glistening azure vase overflows with a colorful array of island blooms set in contrast against a rich, Koa background.
Although Koa has long been used in decorative ways for calabashes or furniture, no one but Marcello and Alessio have made the move into using Koa as an actual canvas, which harkens back to their European training as well as their restoration work on the artifacts of Europe. The texture and dimension of rare Koa absorbs the essence of the composition allowing the life of each soft flower petal, love notes and romance to mirror one another in heart shaped visions, truly a blending of classic European romance and unique Hawaiian aloha.
Alessio says, “it is an extension of the historic painters of Italy reinterpreted for the contemporary Hawaiian Art – all of which allows my modern paintings to feel timeless.”
Leave it to two Italian artists trained in the classics and devoted to historic themes of art to find a way to express their creativity in Hawaii with the same passion for the traditional.”
Alessio and Marcello Revive the Romance of the Renaissance
“Alessio and Marcello Bugagiar combine their talents to create a balance of emotion and technique in paintings of exquisite serenity. “The Twins,” as they are affectionately known on Maui, share a unique talent that works beautifully for them as individuals yet expands beyond boundaries when brought together for artistic endeavors.
Alessio studied art all his life and has been trained in the renowned Accedemia of Belle Arti in Florence, Italy. The school, which boasts Michelangelo as its first director, instilled in Alessio a complete devotion to art through meticulous training.
Marcello is l’artigiano, the craftsman, bringing his high energy and training in mathematics to bear on projects of beauty with challenging design. “When I was a teenager, I spent days in our garage making objects with all kinds of materials,” Marcello says. “My mother would bring us to Florence, the city where we were born, to breathe art and history.
It is this background and exposure to the art of their Italian forefathers that has inspired their paintings. Their newest collection, entitle “Views of Venice,” features landscapes of this magnificent city. So well known and yet still so secret, the city of lagoons and palaces inspires the Twins to create masterpieces that reflect the beauty of Venice, the most romantic of all the cities of Italy. Venice is a folding, picture-perfect postcard of itself. In a little anecdote the Twins have described a scene in which a foreigner asks a Venetian the way back to his hotel. The man, after reflecting for a moment replied, “The fastest of the most beautiful?”
Alessio and Marcello conceptualize the works together, but have distinct responsibilities on the physical work. Marcello prepares the board for Alessio to paint. Afterward, he often applies the finishing touches – the gilt, the framing, etc. It is a classic blending of Old World sophistication with the natural feel fo the islands. Painting on plaster has been done traditionally with water-based pigments, primarily tempera, onto wet or dry plaster. In the 1500’s artists such as Caravaggio were experimenting with the use of oils on intonaco – the italian word for plaster. We feel that through this marvelous media we are rediscovering a rare technique that makes our work unique. The originality of the medias we use, plaster and koa, become the foundations of our visions.
Their move to Maui has been most positive. The natural energy, the quality of light, and the spirit of Aloha blend into a natural catalyst that helps the heart and mind to converge. Beyond the art they create, inspired by the glory of the Renaissance Age, there is togetherness, oneness, unity, and love of beauty. That, says the twins, is what their art and their life is all about.
Alessio and Marcello have brought us a new style of design and technique, a blend of Classical Italian with Romantic Realism. Steeped in the traditions of their native Italy, the Bugagiar twins reinterpret classical themes impressively. They are present-day masters of their craft, linking the Italian Renaissance with modern collectors who savor a glimpse of the golden era of past masters.
The Twins: Marcello & Alessio Bugagiar
By Marcus Webb | Published 01/3/2006 |
Italian-born Brothers Bring Old World Aesthetic (and Modern Digital Technology) to Hawai‘i’s Timeless Culture
“What happens when a classical Italian sensibility—embracing the Old World traditions of Michelangelo and the Renaissance—meets Hawai‘i’s island culture? In the breathtaking collaborative art of twin brothers Marcello and Alessio Bugagiar, the result is not culture-clash, but glorious synthesis. Their joint oeuvre uniquely blends European artistic disciplines—and cutting-edge digital technology—with the delightful informality of Hawaiian culture. The brothers frequently employ traditional oils on a variety of media, from plaster to koa wood, as they celebrate the riotous colors and sensual forms of Hawai‘i: flora, fauna, native peoples, and natural environment.
The Twins’ island-themed art ranges from portraits of traditional Hawaiians—comely lei makers and handsome outriggers—to still-life works featuring Maui orchids, O‘ahu fruits, lush leaves, and hand-woven baskets. A signature technique is to allow the grain of the koa wood backing to show through the final translucent finish in some spots, such as in the texture of a vase, a violin, or even a woman’s hair. This inventive approach enhances the integration of subject and medium, while adding dramatic visual flair.
The Twins emigrated to Hawai‘i from their native Florence in the mid-1990s. To hear them tell it (in their lilting and enthusiastic Italian accents) their transition from The Old Country to Hawai‘i was a natural. “We come from a place where there is a cathedral on every corner,” explains Alessio. “We respect the great artistic traditions of Italy, where the beauty we saw was culture, man-made…” “And yet,” picks up Marcello, “I think we were too constricted there. Italy is precious for many things, but in Hawai‘i there is so much space to create. We never paint Hawai‘i’s sunsets or beaches, but they feed us. We cannot give them up! We feel they are really our church, our inspiration. We walk on the sand or swim every day.”
Alessio completes their shared thought: “Yes, exactly: Hawai‘i lets us experience the beauty of nature. It’s exciting to come here and see this—for us—new form of beauty. We respect the values of Hawai‘i. We feel a part of it, because we love it.”
While they enjoy windsurfing and love hula dancing, it’s no exaggeration to say the Bugagiar brothers still represent the Italy of Michelangelo and the Renaissance. Alessio, the painter (and usually the more reticent and buttoned-down of the two), studied four years at the Accademia delle Belle Arti in Firenze.
Founded in 1562, Michelangelo was one of the original directors. Marcello, typically the more outspoken of the fraternal twins, adeptly applies the latest technology to their joint projects. He often shoots digital photo studies of their subjects before Alessio paints a portrait, manipulating the results on his computer to yield new possibilities and highlights. Marcello also deploys the latest finishes and framing techniques to bring out the brilliance and beauty of their final products. Alessio deems this step crucial to the proper presentation of their fused, total vision.
The Twins view their varied approaches as a creative balance, converging in a single vision of Hawai‘i’s beauty. “When there is balance, there is beauty,” intones Alessio. “It is true in art and it’s true of people. Balance means growing.” “Nature is mathematical and symmetrical,” Marcello agrees, elaborating on Alessio’s theme. “Nature always points to balance. There are even statistical curves that point to philosophical balance. This is an incredible guideline from nature that should be applied everywhere, to politics and society as well as art.”
“I would say our real struggle sometimes is finding the balance of composition for the objects we use in our painting,” Alessio continues. “That’s the foundation and we spend a lot of time deciding that. At least half of our work occurs before the first brush stroke.”
The Twins, as they are known, collaborate as seamlessly in the creative process as they do in everyday conversation. PaintingChatting with a friend or visitor, they deepen each other’s insights, and complete each other’s sentences. Working in the studio, they engage in a dance of mutual inspiration that’s so intimately coordinated, it’s impossible to tell the leader from the led. “Sometimes the vision comes from him and sometimes from me,” says Marcello. “It’s so magical that even we find it tough to identify the boundaries and who contributed how much to a particular work or a magical moment.” Alessio adds: “Often Marcello has the vision and I do the painting, but it’s truly teamwork from beginning to end. We complete each other; we feel we become one energy that expresses a single idea. It feels good to know we have two people focused on the same goal, to create beauty.”
The brothers agree their collaboration is based on “a spiritual chemistry that transcends the blood relationship.” Says Alessio: “I see that many creations are a convergence of visions that come from different directions and human beings.”
Echoes Marcello: “Although we put completely different energies into a piece, we arrive at the same result.” Hawai‘i does not exhaustively define The Twins’ choice of artistic subjects. The full range of their work, on display at the Lahaina Galleries (Maui, the Big Island, California and Oregon), includes portraits of Old World faces and Old Italy city scenes. There is also an abundance of floral images and traditional still-life subjects. Yet lovers of Hawai‘i may be forgiven for feeling that the Islands inspire many of The Twins’ most vivid and compelling creations. “Art is the idealization of life,” says Marcello. “I think with art, we find the sublime in reality. I see our work as an idealization of Hawai‘i, but it grows from the reality of Hawai‘i. We want to ensure what we create is rooted in the dream of every human being.”
Renaissance Men: in Maui No Ka Oi Magazine
By Loren Malencheck | Published Fall 2000 |
“Alessio and Marcello Bugagiar are like two sides of the same coin, different and distinct, but with a connection so complete as to be indivisible. Fraternal twins, each has a talent that complements the other’s. Together they create work of remarkable beauty and distinction.
Alessio studed at the prestigious Accademia delle Belle Arti in Florence, Italy – a school whose first director was Michelangelo. Recruited out of the Accedemia by prestigious firms specializing in the design and creation of theater sets for classical plays, Alessio learned about the art of each period, the clothing and furniture, the character and colors. As well, he has restored artifacts and objets d’art, an experience that explains his preference for painting on board rather than canvas, to replicate the Old World masters. Alessio says, “It feels more natural to paint on board. It is an extension of the historic style of the painters of Italy that gives my modern paintings a timeless quality.”
Marcello is l’artigiano, the craftsman, and brings to their art his energetic creativity and vision, along with a training in mathematics to find beautiful solutions to the challenge of design. “When I was a teenager,” he says, “I was spending days in our garage making objects with any kind of material. Then Alessio would paint on them with astonishing meticulousness and devotion.”
Since moving to Maui in 1995, the twins have blended their classical background developed in Italy with the natural themes of Hawai’i, expressing their creativity through a passion for the traditional culture of their new home. Indeed, it’s their juxtaposition of the classic and the contemporary, Hawaiian subjects worked in European composition, that sets their paintings apart. You see it, for example, in the paintings the twins created early in their Maui career: paintings that capture the many faces and moods of women.
In their series “Hawai’i Classics,” Alessio and Marcello use oils on native koa wood to depict traditional images in compositions that transcend both past and present. Much as a sculptor discovers the shape hidden inside a block of wood, these artists unveil the forms within the lustrous surface of the wood as part of a representational painting. In the ripple of muscles of a young surfer, the wavy hair of a woman sitting on a beached outrigger canoe, or the curves of a calabash holding ripe papayas and mangoes, they carefully select the exact areas to leave unpainted, allowing the lustrous grain of the koa to shine through.
Classical music is yet another thread the twins weave through their art. In their painting “Autumn at Venice,” inspired by Antonio Canaletto’s 18th centure painting “Piazzo San Marco,” the theme is the “Concerto Op. 8, No. 3,” of the Four Seasons by Vivaldi. In the background, the artists have captured Venice, Vivaldi’s beautiful and picturesque city of lagoons. In the foreground is a stunning still life: a violin on a ledge, a handwritten manuscript, and the feeling of a just-out-of-sight virtuoso contemplating the vista.
“Incorporating our deep love for classical music in the composition brings it to an even higher level for us,” Alessio says. “We are not musicians, nevertheless, we feel close to them. The vibration of sound is much like the vibration of colors. When we marry them together, we express deep thoughts, deep feelings. Our relationships with Ruth Murata, director of the Maui Conservatory of Music, and Don V. Lad, a great violinist, have been a great inspiration. With their help, we have been able to include in our paintings instruments hundreds of years old, manuscripts by composers like Bach, scores by Beethoven, Vivaldi. Their knowledge about music has been our muse.”
“For me,” Marcello adds, “there is an incredible attraction to musical instruments. The serenity of a violin, the romantic mandolin, the gaiety of a flute, the restive sound of the oboe, the power of the piano, the melancholy horn, the tenderness of a clarinet. You don’t need to be Italian to be touched by this absolute beauty.”
Nor Hawaiian to embrace a Maui lifestyle. From their first days here; the twins have immersed themselves in what the island has to offer – marcello in ocean sports, Alessio in golf – with a dedication and fervor worthy of their passionate Italian nature. Marcello recently took up kitesurfing, the latest trend that combines the elements of the sea and air in one very heady experience.
“I really love it,” Marcello says. “It brought a new way for me to express my love for the ocean and experience the rough waters of Maui. I had tired of windsurfing after so many years, there were no new challenges. I went to kitesurfing as soon as it started. I said to myself, I’m going to be the first Italian out there.
“In this new line of Naish kites, the absolute best relaunchable water kite available, there is also a little of my creativity. I have designed and built a sytem of depowering that allows the surfer to trim the desired angle of the kite while in the water. Don Montague, Naish designer and researcher of water relaunchable kites, liked my vision and decided to put it into production. I was very proud. Together with Alessio, I have designed also a futuristic kite that has a turbine mounted in the center and, thanks to photovoltaic cells spread out in the wings, it is possible to use the kite with no wind. For now it is a vision, but we think that one day this will be the preferred kite.”
Clearly, the move to Maui has been good for Marcello and Alessio. Beyond the art they create, inspired by the Renaissance, there is togetherness, unity, and love of beauty. That, says the twins, is what their art and their life is all about.