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The Magic of Nicholas Mongiardo

The Magic of Nicholas Mongiardo

For the first time in his 50-year career, Berkshire resident Nicholas Mongiardo presented a solo show of his signature lacquerwork at Berkshire Botanical Garden’s Leonhardt Galleries. The exhibition, “The Magic of Nicholas Mongiardo,” featured screens, paintings and furniture showcasing more than two-dozen pieces spanning 30 years, and a body of work rarely seen in public. The exhibition opened with a gallery reception on Saturday, Nov. 6, 3-5 p.m. "Meet the Artist" events were scheduled for Saturday Nov. 12, 19, and 26, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. in the galleries. The exhibition ended on Nov. 30. See a gallery.

Mongiardo's illustrious career began by visiting the Brooklyn Museum, inspired by decorative furniture and arts. His interest in lacquer and eggshell inlay led to importing antiques, restoration, and creating furniture with an emphasis on art deco. Experiments with eggshell inlay and lacquer in his designs produced a unique style of art acquired over the decades by collectors and exhibited in museums, including an original eggshell and lacquer bubble mirror, “The Theory of Evolution,” displayed at the Cooper Hewitt Museum.

Mongiardo, who lives on a family sanctuary in Monterey, Mass., with nature and wildlife as his priority, views his exhibition at Berkshire Botanical Garden as an opportunity that occurred at the right time and place. “I was honored to be offered a show at BBG,” he said. “It’s the perfect gallery space to exhibit my work, so after 70 years of creating art, this will be my first solo show.” Originally scheduled for 2020 but postponed due to COVID-19, preparing for the exhibition resulted in Mongiardo creating some of his most expressive work to date through his series “Birth of a Planet,” which he describes as experiencing “a divine intervention of turbulence and maturing of planet birth.” 

Mongiardo’s “Birth of a Planet,” a series of seven paintings created during the pandemic utilizing tortoise and coromandel eggshell organic lacquer. Additional paintings focusing on botanical and animal subjects including flowers, squirrels and birds are also featured, all with Mongiardo’s signature “Mercedes finish” achieved in a process of layering up to ten coats of lacquer on each piece. All paintings are presented in hand-crafted frames of brass, leather, sheep skin, wood veneers, gold leaf, palladium or steel. Four sets of masterful four-panel screens include "The Garden of Eden," "Zebras," "Giraffes," and "Water Lilly Pads." Also included is a ten-foot “viewing bench” of African Bubinga slab wood showcased in Bert Stern’s exhibition of limited-edition photographs of Marilyn Monroe at the Snow Gallery in New York.

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