Interview with celebrated artist, Bobo Ivancich

By Penelope Brooke-Hamilton.

Penelope Brooke Hamilton, Tracey Stack, Matthew John, Bobo Ivancich, Halle Handji, Marcello Gracia

Penelope Brooke-Hamilton, Tracey Stack, Matthew John, Bobo Ivancich, Halle Handji, Marcelo Garcia

Venice Carnival has been on my wish list of spectacles to experience since I first visited La Serenissima on my own mini ‘Grand Tour’ when I was 18. My love affair with the ‘City of Luxury’ intensified during my university years when I read for a BA in European Studies with a history, art and literature major.

So it was with great delight that I attended Carnival this year (Jan 31-Feb 17) where not only did I bask in the beauty of the canals, the romance of the bridges and the faded yet glorious decrepitude of the architecture, but was dazzled by the incredible array of creative traditional and historical costumes set to the breath-taking backdrop of the most beautiful city in the world. It was my pleasure to attend a number of lavish masked balls and costume parties where one simply cannot help meeting artists, both bohemian and aristocratic, and converse about their performances and creations.

Bobo Ivancich (7)

An artist firmly in the latter camp, is Bobo Ivancich who lives just behind San Marco in a Palazzo of impressive proportions, one half archetypical Venetian palace (frequently made available for private events), the other an artist’s studio: paint-spattered and half draped in protective cloths yet still furnished with damask sofas and chandeliers. It was in this eccentric studio, filled with many of his exquisite major works, that I met with Bobo to ask more about his story, his palace and his artwork.

Bobo Ivancich (12)

Penelope: Can you tell us a little about your background?
Bobo:  I am Italo-Cuban. My father came from a long-standing Venetian family of bankers, ship-owners and ambassadors who come to Venice centuries ago from Dalmatia.  My mother was Marquise Cristina de Sandoval y de la Torriente from Havana, Cuba. Her ancestors were the Spanish Conquistadors who travelled to America with Pizarro. They received swathes of land from the King, but regrettably Fidel Castro expropriated it. Other ancestors include a Cuban ambassador to Spain and a government Minister in Cuba.

Bobo Ivancich (5)

Penelope: What do you enjoy most about living in Venice?
Bobo: Venice is especially cosmopolitan and vibrant during Art Biennale and the Cinema Festival when lots of interesting people visit Venice and there are great parties every night.  During Carnival, Venice is transformed and the energy is wonderful. Personally, I prefer Venice in the summer with its glorious weather, in the cold winter it feels very lonely. City night life during most of the year is not like London, Paris or New York.

Bobo Ivancich (13)

Penelope: You live in an exquisite palace with a long history. Can you tell us a story or two about the building or your ancestors who lived there?
Bobo:  The Palace where I live was designed by the same architect of St. Marks Square, Sansovino. Nowadays, I rent my palace as a Biennale Pavillion or for big parties, so these walls know a lot of secrets. [Earnest] Hemingway often visited here as he was a dear family friend. In the ’40s, gossip and scandalous rumours circulated that he had a love affaire with my aunt Adriana Ivancich, but neither she nor Hemingway have ever admitted it. My ancestors also owned Palazzo Ferro-Fini , which used to be the Grand Hotel  together with the Gritti Hotel, that was once connected with a bridge.

Bobo Ivancich (6)
Penelope: What is your favourite room or design detail in the palace?
Bobo: I adore the “red room”, a room with Rubelli tissue. I also really like the yellow room where Hemingway often came to dine in front of Rubens tapestries. 

Bobo Ivancich (9)

Penelope: Are there any secret passages, false walls, or secret hiding places?
Bobo: No. I had secret passages in Villa Franchetti, in the Venetian countryside. My mother’s second marriage was to the Baron Raimondo Franchetti, of the Rothschild family. His sister married Henry Fonda.

Bobo Ivancich (8)

Penelope: Where did you study art?
Bobo: I studied economics, not art, primarily in Venice and also for a short time in England. I am a self-taught artist.  Gino de Dominicis and Mario Schifano [leading Italian artists – PBH] are friends of mine who act as expert influences for me.

Penelope: Who are your favourite artists?
Bobo:  Francis Bacon and Damien Hirst.

Bobo Ivancich (16)

Penelope: What is the most challenging part of being an artist? What is the most enjoyable part?

Bobo: I like to be an artist for different reasons, but mostly to create, and to be free. Being from the family I am in, there are many social obligations and I often have many parties to attend. These sometimes get in the way of my creative work and interrupt the flow so when I have the chance, I love to go into my studio and lose these structures on my time and my mind. There is a great freedom in that.

Bobo Ivancich (22)

Penelope: How would you describe your style?
Bobo: Maybe imperiallistic? But I don’t like tags or labels. I can be one thing one day and the contrary the next. I am not dependent on the market or gallery preferences. I like the evolution of my work and would not like to see it confined.

Bobo Ivancich (21)

Penelope: What is the process behind your paintings? From concept to completion.
Bobo: I conceptualize my paintings in different ways, mostly when I don’t think about it, or when I am relaxed, sleeping, or dreaming. This is the important thing. For me, the artwork is already finished here (meaning in the mind – PBH). Realizing it is secondary. I have everything clear in my mind when I paint. Only with abstract painting is it a different process.

Bobo Ivancich (24)

Penelope: Where do you find your inspiration? Do you have muses?
Bobo: I find inspiration mostly in my dreams, both day-dreams and sleeping dreams.
My girlfriend is my muse, but I am very confidential. I mean, I never speak about it to anyone.

Bobo Ivancich (11)
Penelope: What other art forms are you drawn to to try for yourself, or to simply appreciate?
Bobo: I like a lot Cinema. I have many friend who are producers, directors or actors, including [Harvey] Weinstein and [Quentin] Tarantino.

Bobo Ivancich (4)

Penelope: What is your most favourite piece of art and why?
Bobo: My favorite painting is “Las Meninas” byVelasquez.
I like it for several reasons; for the mystery that hangs over it, because my ancestors were Spanish, and for the way is it painted.  I have painted several versions of it, including details and a remake.

Bobo Ivancich (15)

Before he disappears, in full blue formal suit and dark glasses to the first of three parties and balls he has that night, Bobo shows me a glossy coffee table book showcasing his full catalogue. For anyone interested in further reading, Bobo Ivancich, is available by request.

Post by Penelope Brooke-Hamilton.


Visit at:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.