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Forty years on, it still seems remarkable that Bruna X’s career in sculpture should have lasted less than eight years.

Dating from 1958 to the mid-1960’s, her works betray an obvious Mesoamerican influence; her focus being studies of Aztec warriors and nobility rather than (more common) portrayals of animal, avian or reptilian characters.

Her early terracotta figures were initially intended as drafts and moulds for her first forays into stone carving, yet so impressive and powerful were these studies in themselves, the artist was encouraged to display them in 1960 at Piazza Santa Maria Trastevere in Rome, her first public exhibition. Attractive in design as these fragile figures undoubtedly were, as terracotta moulds they suffered badly over the years with cracks, breakages and exposure to the elements being key factors in explaining why just one of the original Trastevere pieces, Black Empress remains with us today.

Out of her stone carvings, Why Do Our Gods Look Down On Us? is arguably the most impressive. It is a vividly sculptured double-headed figure displaying a powerfully distinguished grandeur. It is at once brutish and vulnerable, in contrast to the slender and geometric nature of the marble Tetecuhtin or the selective realism of the Pochteca figures that show a detailed precision sharpened by the sculptor’s great technique.

The centrepiece of her work in relief wood carving is the monolithic The Sun and the Moon. Though having its lunar side, the sharp deep cuts of the oak accentuate the artist’s depiction of Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec sun god, who was given the strength to rise each morning through the blood of human sacrifice.

These works were exhibited for the last time at il Centro di Cultura Pensiero ed Arte in Bari in early 1972. In the exhibition catalogue, Lello Spinelli observed that Bruna X ‘entrusts in us an exquisitely human message. Her figures show such a rare expression that can only hint at the inspired and meticulous excavation that was involved in creating them’

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