March 07, 2010

Bonaria Manca, Casa dei simboli/House of symbols

this picture courtesy of Marie Famulicki

Above photograph of Bonaria Manca is a still from the Marie Famulicki movie La sérénité sans carburant (Serenity with no fuel), produced in 2004 when Manca was at age 79. 

Life and works

Bonaria Manca was born in 1925 in the small community of Orune on the isle of Sardinia, In 1947 her family moved to the Viterbo area on Italy's mainland, north of Rome.

In 1965 Bonaria Manca settled in the community of Tuscania in a house bought by the family. Her marriage, contracted in 1968, held only some 12 years, especially because her husband could not accept Bonaria's independent way of life.

After her mother (in 1975) and a beloved brother (in 1978) had died, and her husband had left her (1980), she fell into a crisis, which she overcame by from 1981 on actively making paintings.

Although Bonaria Manca always had been fond of creative work, such as doing embroidery, painting became her passion, such a passion indeed, that from 1997 on she decorated walls and ceilings of her house with paintings. Her themes include rural, religious and biblical scenes, memories from her life, totemic figures, all done in her specific personal style and use of colors.

this picture and the next two courtesy of Roberto Loru

She also has been working on canvas and card board, in her work evocating memories of her youth, scenes of rivers, mountains, woods, nature....

Bonaria Manca is rather reluctant to sell her work, since she feels these work have a soul, have to stay where they originated and should not be separated from her.

However, the dutch outsider art collection De Stadshof could buy one of her paintings which was displayed for the first in the group exhibition Masters of the Margin (De Stadshof, Zwolle, Netherlands, nov 1999-march 2000). Later more paintings were added to the Stadshof collection.

In 2004 Marie Famulicki presented her movie Serenity without fuel, featuring the artist and her creations.

In subsequent years Manca's paintings on canvas have been exposed in various venues in Europe (Rome, Sardinia, Gent, Paris....). 

Partly because of these expositions, Manca's creative work has become increasingly known, also internationally

In September 2014 a conference was held in Tuscania on the occasion of the publication of the booklet Bonaria Manca. Rinascere ogni giorno, edited by Pavel Konečný and Roberta Trapani (see documentation).

Saving the site for the future

In the meantime (in October 2013) an association of friends was formed, which aims to sustain the artist now she is in her nineties and which aims to save Manca's house for the future. In September 2015 this Associazione Bonaria Manca organized a conference in Tuscania.

In december 2015 it was announced that the Italian Department of Culture had decided that Bonaria Manca's house and her artworks inside have a protected status. In the future it might be used as a studio for artists in residence

Selected documentation/more pictures
* The most recent official website "Bonario Manca" with biography, pictures of her oeuvre. lists of articles, books and so on 
* An earlier version of the official website entitled  "La Casa di Bonaria" with biography, bibliography, overview of expositions, pictures of her oeuvre, and so on
* Facebook (with a variety of pictures)
Website of the dutch outsider art collection de Stadshof
* Article by Roberta Trapani on SPACES website
* Bonaria Manca. Rinascere ogni giorno, booklet edited by Pavel Konečný and Roberta Trapani (Marginàlie, 2014), with contributions by Jean-Marie Drot, Claire Margat, Gabriele Mina, Daniela Rosi e Roberta Trapani (presented on September 20, 2014 in Tuscania)
* Article (September 2018) by Desirée Maida, "Alla scoperta della Casa dei Simboli, dimora dell’artista pastora Bonaria Manca a Tuscania" (Discovering the House of Symbols, home of the shepherdess/artist Bonaria Manca in Tuscania), on website Artribune
* Marie Famulicki, Serenity with no fuel (La sérénité sans carburant), movie produced by Stella Productions (2004, 52') ; a small fragment (1'15"):

* Video by Lazio Innova (YouTube, 2'29". uploaded march 2015

* Trailer of a documentary by Luigi Simone Veneziano (4'01", YouTube, uploaded april 2015)

* A video by La Donna Sarda, added October 2016 to Vimeo

Some recent expositions 

* In 2010, curated by Roberta Trapani, Bonaria Manca's paintings were exposed at the 11th Festival International d'Art Singulier, July 31-August 29, Aubagne, France. This was the first time her work was presented in France. The artist actively took part in some of the meetings that were organised  in the context of this festival.
* Above exposition was repeated in Paris (galerie Area), april 2011, entitled "Brute ou naive? La folie douce de Bonaria Manca" (Raw or naive? The sweet madness of Bonaria Manca)
* Exposition of photographs of Manca's work by Mario del Curto in Contemporart House Gallery, Genoa, dec 2011-jan 2012
* Exposition of photographs by Salvatore Bongiorno, Museo Carlo Bilotti, Rome, oct 2012
* Exposition of paintings, Festival Pergine (Italy), July 6-13, 2013

first published july 2010, last revised feb 2020

Bonaria Manca
Strada Viterbese n. 1, 
01017 Tuscania,Viterbo, Lazio, Italy
visits only on appointment via