Andrea Bonazzi is an Italian lover of all things Lovecraftian, who has created many elaborate props and sculptures inspired by Mythos creatures. He blogs regularly and contributes to Weirdletter on all matters of horror and the fantastic.
IFP: Hi Andrea. Can you quickly introduce yourself to our readers?
AB: A weird fiction fan, I make Lovecraftian sculptures in stones, modeling paste and various cheap materials, occasionally carving briar pipes. Through “computer magic” I often insert my artworks into improbable photographic portraits of Weird, Fantasy or SF’s authors. In recent years, I’ve begun to write weird-based non-fiction, and to make translations into Italian.
IFP: How did you start creating Mythos props and sculptures?
AB: Just for fun, in 1988, playing with commercial plaster modeling paste. In those years, I was immersed in C.A. Smith’s Italian translations: I was intrigued by his sculptures, reading a lot about his carved stones without any opportunity to really see them, unable to access the original American publications. So, fascinated by Smith, and driven to recreate the ancient eldritch idols described in Lovecraft’s stories, I started sculpting, proceeding by trial and error, also producing other Mythos props for role-playing use.
IFP: How did you discover Lovecraft?
AB: In the middle of the 1980s, I was reading SF, Fantasy and Horror. At first, I found Lovecraft as a fictional character in Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, and in the same times, I heard something about him from older friends. HPL was almost an unknown here, and rather undervalued by SF readers (all popular Fantastic genres ’til the 1980s were generally published in Italy as “Science-Fiction”), but he was a sort of esoteric secret among a circle of few fans. Already captured by Edgar Allan Poe, I discovered the Old Gentleman in an old SF magazine (Urania #310, 1963, Colui che sussurrava nel buio: his first Italian publication, containing “The Whisperer in Darkness”, “Pickman’s Model”, “The Colour Out of Space”, “The Dunwich Horror”, and “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”). In Lovecraft, I found my own views and philosophy, and a taste for weird and cosmical horror rarely met before in other classics.
IFP: You’ve done many montages, sometimes inserting Lovecraftian objects and yourself into other time periods, and you’ve said your sculptures are self-portraits. Why do you identify with the weird and monstrous?
It’s not with the monstrous that I identify myself, but rather, with the alien…The Outsider. I was an undiagnosed depressed already at a young age, and my feelings of alienation from this world are not really changed even now. In my attempts at art, as earlier in my readings of weird fiction, I found a sort of sublimation for my uneasiness in front of this commonly-perceived illusion that is our reality, this nightmare to be conscious of the vacuity and the tragic total nonsense of human existence.
IFP: What is your favourite piece you ever created?
AB: I have not really a favourite piece; indeed, I’m usually pathologically unsatisfied with all my finished works. But I’m fond of a tablet, the one with a tentacled, eyeless face that I use in almost all my Web profiles. I’m tied to it because it was my first serious artwork after a very long pause, resuming my activities in the late 1990s.
IFP: I know you are not making props right now. Do you think you’d ever come back to it? And what keeps you busy these days?
AB: After a long period of family troubles, probably I’ll come back to sculpt and make props in the near future, resolving practical problems like the lack of a laboratory and the present impossibility of affording the expense for more professional materials and tools.
In the meantime, I write for the Web and magazines, and do a bit of translation: I would be rather proud if I could contribute to a local rediscovery of Stefan Grabinski, unpublished in Italy since 1929, with an introductory article and a couple of his short stories, forthcoming now in a small Italian Weird magazine. I’m also waiting for my first important international book cover, published in Japan at the end of January.
IFP: There seems to be little space in Italy for horror publications. Do you think that might change? Or is the market simply not open to this niche?
AB: The last global crisis made the Italian publishing market even more conservative and closed. Our bookstores are submerged by a flood of Twilight-like young adult fiction, and Horror still is a prerogative reserved for bestseller novels by King and few others. Short stories and collections are considered as a bad investment by publishers, translations are usually underpayed, and the shelves are still and always filled with eternal reprints. No more Horror on our newsstands: the only one mass-paperback series has folded and we have, today, just one specialized publishing house.
Some changes could only come from the small press: very small publishers, indeed…often, even amateurs, or single individuals that print just dozen of copies at high costs. From here came almost all the really interesting Italian editions of Weird-Horror fiction and critics in recent times.
AB: Only a natural, gradual and definitive extinction of the human race. But it’s rather difficult to convince all people to stop reproducing…. (Maybe I’m reading too much Thomas Ligotti, lately!)
IFP: Who are some contemporary artists that capture the spirit of Lovecraft?
AB: I should write so many names in too little space, still doing an injustice to dozens of artists that surely, I will forget to mention.
I’m obviously indebted to J.K. Potter, first inspiration for my own photo-manipulations. Dave Carson is a contemporary classic, then John Coulthart…And, among the youngest, I like immensely Santiago Caruso. In comics, I can’t forget the late Alberto Breccia and his rendering of HPL’s tales: the graphic vagueness of some vast, inexpressible visions and the incisiveness of the realistic details, as in Lovecraft’s own descriptive prose.
IFP: If you could be a Lovecraftian creature or character, whom would you be and why?
AB: Someone could say that I’m already a Lovecraftian character! But among all creatures from the Old Gentleman’s stories, I think I would prefer to be a cat in Ulthar.
Visit Andrea Bonazzi’s website.