21st June is celebrated every year as International Yoga Day since 2015. It is a well-known fact that Yoga is the science to bring synthesis to mind and body. It is a discipline of physical, mental and spiritual practice that was originated in ancient India, learnt to be as old as pre-Vedic period i.e. approximately 3000 BC. Its reference could be found in traditional Hindu scriptures such as Vedas and Upanishads. In reality there are several schools of yoga that are being separately practiced by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. Traditionally yoga includes breathing exercises combined with postures called as Asanas, some chanting and importantly the meditation.
I have heard that evolution of yoga was begun with need for helping hardworking men to attain physical relaxation, stay healthy and get ready for next days work. Therefore, it was predominantly male dominated discipline in olden times. However, over the period of couple of thousand years different yoga teachers and spiritual gurus belong to different religions, sects and traditions developed their own school of yoga based on the classic yoga and popularised it across Indian region and practiced by men and women equally.
It was late 19th century several Indian gurus and yoga teachers introduced Yoga to western world and yoga become popular like never before. Eventually, United Nations recognised Yoga as a non-religious health practice and adopted a resolution in 2014 in the General Assembly over the suggestion of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and declared 21st June as International Yoga Day.
Ironically, in contemporary world yoga is, by and large, practiced as posture-based fitness technique. Few marketing and business minds of 20th century reengineered yoga to fit to their business goals and limited it to body toning and body bending tool while totally ignoring spiritual aspect and art of living.
Artists around the world, for several decades, have been expressing their liking to Yoga through painting or sculpting using various mediums. Last year when I was involved with a group art project organised by German Magazine called EVOLVE I encountered a fellow artist who is a well learned from acclaimed art institutes in Italy and also a disciplined yoga practitioner who loves to draw and illustrate her experiences of Yoga through creations. It was no one, but a featured artists of Devamitra Artists Collective – Franca Bortot.
Franca was born in a small town near Belluno, in the beautiful part of Italian Alps. Since her childhood she had keen interest in arts and sports. She grew up in a countryside with a huge house to live and having very few neighbours, but plenty of outdoor space with beautiful landscapes which impacted her to stay connected with the mother nature and be creative.
During her teenage, she realized how much she loved art which influenced her to pursue studies of art and become an artist. Very early age of 14 Franca joined Art school, thanks to her family who wholeheartedly supported her wish. Later she continued studying painting and engraving for over 5 years in different Academies of Fine Arts in Milan, Venice and Vienna. During those years she had the opportunity to explore and approach different art forms. However, what deeply influenced her artistic inspiration was the ‘Artistic Anatomy’.
Mastering Artistic Anatomy
When Franca was 16, she started studying the anatomy at the Art School. After two years of studying every bone and muscle of the human body, Franca started realizing how beautiful and complex we human beings are. Eventually that lead Franca spending 16 years rigorously learning, mostly at Academy of Fine Arts, Venice, every aspect of anatomy and draw it with different techniques. She recalls those days of learning as very challenging and difficult but very fulfilling.
“Artistic Anatomy is a graphic investigation tool of the physical human body. Every element of our body is part of a very complex and harmonious system and is quite challenging to express it on paper. Not to mention that there are countless details of motion, structure, and connection undetectable to the human eye. In believe artistic anatomy drawings unveil the endless possibilities of the body’s dynamic flow, bringing awareness to the beautiful complexity of our inner self,” Franca describes.
After her second degree in Fine Art, in 2012, Franca started working as an assistant teacher at the Artistic Anatomy department of the Venice Academy of Fine Art. Although she enjoyed sharing her passion and techniques to likeminded students, she knew that teaching wasn't her way of life. Nevertheless, the opportunity at the Academy helped her realize her own heart’s calling and the inner potential.
Entering into the world of Yoga
It was in 2013, she first discovered the mystical world of Yoga in her native town Belluno. Her first yoga teacher, Milena Dal Pan, was excellent and made her fall in love with the practice from the very first day. As the time passed by Franca tried different kinds of yoga and explored different dynamics of yogic world. She feels blessed to discover herself through meditation. From other hand her expertise in drawing anatomy helped her to realise in her work the world of endless facets of Yoga.
In 2014 she moved to Berlin as she found her love in life. City life offered her many great opportunities, yet at the same time she found it difficult to find her own way. After several unsuccessful projects she finally juggled her way back into pursuing Anatomy of Yoga with full force and decided to combine yoga practice with her passion for human anatomy and create her personal journey of "Anatomy of Yoga".
“Many of the yoga poses are quite challenging to practice, and therefore to draw. One need plenty of time to understand the structure and dynamics of the Asanas. One may simply "copy" a pose, but first one need to really understand the asana and absorb it to be able to represent it,” believes Franca. However, the fact is Yoga influences Franca’s drawings as much as her drawings influence her yoga practice.
As a process of creation Franca’s deep knowledge of the subject speak through her work most of the times. But sometimes she simply breaks away from the limitations of knowledge and create a piece of work that just comes alive. She follows Yoga movements that attracts her and inspires her creative self. Often, she also attempts to combine multiple poses to let lose the control and flows with the flow. Often, she follows her instinct and get playful with colours and lines. There are times she overlaps lines over lines so that all the lines can come alive and give a feeling of figures moving from one posture to another.
In contemporary art world we often experience drawing is greatly undervalued and considered as a very rudimentary or academic as art driven by technology and digital art are taken centre stage. However, undeterred by the state of contemporary art scene Franca says “all creations are vital and important, because behind each line of drawing or brush stroke there are hours of physical, mental and spiritual indulgence and hardship. Making a mark on through the artwork will always remain valuable and unique, irrespective of the mediums and methods.”
In conclusion, I can say, perhaps Franca knows human body muscles more than any physician does. Her works of human body in Yoga postures are brilliant results of her own life experiences of being a yoga practitioner and artist. She creates and shares what she lives – ‘a yogic way of life’.
Gallery - 1
Gallery - 2
Watch here Franca drawing....
Born in Belluno, Italy, 1988.
Based in Berlin from 2014 to 2019.
She is currently living between Italy and Germany.
2002-2006: Art School, Liceo Artistico “Leonardo da Vinci”, Belluno, Italy.
2006-2007: Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera, Milan, Italy.
2007-2009: First Level Degree in Painting, Accademia di Belle Arti of
Venice, Italy. Thesis on the anatomy of the hand.
2009: Erasmus Project at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna, Austria.
2009-2012: Second Level degree, Accademia di Belle Arti of Venice, Italy. Thesis on the anatomy of the foot.
2012-2014: Assistant under the auspices of the Chair of Artistic Anatomy, Professor Mauro Zocchetta, at the Accademia di Belle Arti of Venice, Italy.
2014-present: Freelance Artist.
2021 Copyright Franca Bortot. Franca Bortot reserver the copyright to all the content published in this page including images of paintings. Any unsolicitaed use of full or part of content or images are strictly prohibited