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 Bruno Surdo  (1963 - )

About: Bruno Surdo


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Lived/Active: Illinois      Known for: representational figure and portrait painting, teaching

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A native of Chicago, Bruno Surdo is founder and director of the School of Representational Art  (SORA) in Chicago.  He first trained at the American Academy of Art in graphic design and illustration, but realized his real interest was figure painting in realist style and promoting traditional methods of teaching 'basics' of art.

Surdo, along with like-minded Michael Chelich, trained with Fred Berger, a well-known figurative artist who suggested that they start an academy to further their ideas.  He urged them to go to Minneapolis to train in Classical Realism at Atelier Lack, whose Director was Richard Lack. 

After taking that course of study for three and a half years, Surdo traveled to Italy where he had lived as a teenager.  He worked in Florence, learning about traditional methods of grinding paints and making varnishes.  He also studied with Charles Cecil and Daniel Graves, and then returned to Chicago to start the school.

Michael Chelich, who had spent four years at Atelier Lack, then signed on as a faculty member at SORA.  At the school, the curriculum is four years, with the first year learning to draw from casts, "the time honored tradition", and from live models.  The second year is a transition from charcoal drawing to monochromatic oils, moving to bust portraiture and emphasizing accuracy of angles and anatomy.  Still life is introduced in the third year, with life drawing and portraiture continued.  In the fourth year, creative portraiture is the focus with the emphasis on expressiveness or emotions, mood and symbolism.

Of his school, Surdo says:  "I'm not trying to reinvent art, and there are certain limitations with the traditional atelier school.  I think it can be too technical.  Here we try to teach the uniersal things that work, the universal principles based on nature." (91)

Mark G. Mitchell, "Sight-Size and More at SORA", Drawing, Summer 2007

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