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Working with a vocabulary of precise shapes forged from stainless steel and wire mesh elements, Ken Bortolazzo creates three-dimensional compositions of strength and grace. His sculptures range in scale from small pieces suitable for architectural interiors to monumental outdoor works. Simplified abstract forms reveal a Minimalist sensibility, while delicate surface textures create visual complexity. Earlier designs feature intricately interlocking geometric shapes inspired by the artist’s childhood fascination with puzzles.

More recent constructions explore the specific concerns of kinetic sculpture, such as mass, balance and changing spatial relationships with the animated visual interplay of layered textures and form. By burnishing the stainless steel, Bortolazzo achieves a surface that brilliantly reflects light, which is an essential element of his work. The integration of wire mesh allows for a visual transformation from transparent to opaque as parts of the sculpture move through space. These kinetic compositions often present shifting optical illusions similar to the Moiré effect, with juxtaposed linear patterns formed by the recurring motion of overlapping perforated steel elements.

Born in 1947, Ken Bortolazzo is fascinated by complex puzzles and the way disparate pieces fit together into a cohesive unit. Early collaborations with Irma Cavat at the University of California and apprenticeships with Kenneth Noland and Julio Agostini provided a strong foundation for the young artist’s personal expression. However, his primary mentor was the renowned American kinetic sculptor George Rickey (1907-2002), with whom he worked closely for many years. Other influences include artists David Smith and Jesus Rafael Soto.

Bortolazzo has exhibited widely and his work is represented in numerous public and private collections nationwide. In addition to traditional art venues, his exacting constructions attract recognition from the disciplines of technology and science. Currently his large-scale sculptures are included in a retrospective at Westmont College in Montecito and in the “State of the Art Gallery” public installation on State Street in Santa Barbara. With unique vision, Bortolazzo explores the tactile characteristics and physical presence inherent in three-dimensional art, while changing light and kinetic aspects add another layer of experiential intricacy to his dynamic steel forms.

Nancy Clare Caponi
Director of Contemporary Art

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