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Sergio Boldrin, Artist Mask Maker
When Carnival was re-discovered back in 1979, teen-Sergio and his friends decided to have fun and start creating some mask for this “new” event: this choice led Sergio to become a promoter of the Venetian Carnival and his works to be appreciated and exported worldwide, making him a renown mask artist and a favourite of the movie industry.
Innovative yet faithful to the Venetian mask making tradition, Sergio has always opted for papier-mache and entirely handmade processes. The combination of ancient techniques, passion, and his expertise both as a mask maker and a painter, deliver outstanding results that make his crafts truly unique.
Faithful to the Venetian mask making tradition, all Sergio’s masks and decorations are high quality and entirely handmade, going counter trend to what souvenirs shops offer in town.
In a time when mass produced plastic masks are killing the traditions, Sergio chose instead to work even more and to teach his relatives in order to preserve the knowledge of an art that dates back to the XIII century.
<< As Saint Francis used to say, those who use their hands are workers, those who use their hands and their heads are artisans, those who use their hands, their heads and their hearts are artists >>.
I’m Sergio Boldrin, I’m a mask artisan and a painter. I’ve been working in this shop for 31 years. I create papier-mache masks and I oil paint.
We create the masks following the Venetian tradition using papier-mache, without the use of machines
or modern technologies, in the traditional way, just like the “mascareri” (mask makers) have been doing since the XIII century, creating models for the parties and the Carnival of the Venetian aristocracy.
I started back in 1979, when the Carnival was re-discovered thanks to the Biennale. I and a bunch of guys started then making our first masks, that was the spark that disclosed to us the “world” of masks.
It is essential, in Venice, to identify the papier-mache mask because we are now surrounded by “made in China” shops and products made out of plastic or synthetic materials, which have nothing to do with our tradition.
It is crucial to promote the artisanal and artistic production in Venice, a production that is, sadly, disappearing together with the traditional knowledge. It has now become a real struggle to keep the workshops running: I personally try to keep growing and keep the tradition alive, by teaching my brother, my daughter, and my nephew.
Yes, it’s a particular type of papier-mache mask. As a young guy, I used to go to exhibitions at Ca’ Rezzonico, to admire the Venetian production of the ‘700. When I started creating masks, I went back there, looking for something inspiring and there Tiepolo’s “Pulcinella’s swing” fresco, inspired me to oil paint some masks which I used as a canvas, to reproduce the fresco. Those were the first masks ever with frescos and paintings of the Venetian artists.
When we speak of creating different masks, we speak of using clay for creating first the positive, then obtaining the negative mold, and finally the papier-mache mask. We have around 150 different molds, more or less.
Masks have a world of possibilities, masks are sculpture. Inspiration can come from History, and that only gives never ending ideas, or by Nature: suns, moons, leaves… everything! There is really a world of possibilities: the problem for a mask maker is not finding subjects, the problem is a lack of time for doing them all!
Yes, I would be happy to give an advice to our friends coming to Venice: walk slow, don’t run, stop and observe particular situations, there still are some, explore places that are not just around San Marco and Rialto and, most of all, don’t be in a hurry.
Like Saint Francis used to say: “A person that works with his hands, is a worker; a person that works with his hands and his mind, is an artisan; a person that works with his hands, his mind and his heart, is an artist”.
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