“I have always drawn, ever since I was a child. Then a few years ago I discovered fountain pen inks and their fluidity, so my creative journey (which has included sculpture, painting, three-dimensional paintings and video art) shifted focus to the distinctive mark generated by the fountain pen, Italian-born artist, Celio Bordin, explains to Kenro Industries’ Bryan Hulser. Bordin “discovered the Aurora fountain pen in an old stationery store in a remote village in Piedmont, Italy.” Hulser of Kenro Industries, became acquainted with Bordin, online, and recently had the opportunity to visit him and watch him perform in his studio in the Arts District in downtown Los Angeles (DTLA). Though Bordin expresses himself in line drawings that are created with vintage Aurora Magellan fountain pens on stretched canvases, they are performances nonetheless. Watching his process is every bit as mesmerizing as regarding his finished products.

Hulser watched as Bordin balanced one edge of his stretched canvas atop an orange traffic cone, while the closer edge rested against his thigh. He placed the fountain pen filled with custom pigment he mixed himself on the surface of the canvas and he waited. He waited for the emotion to rise within, and then his fountain pen nibs took off at a frenzied pace, as if it had a life of its own. At first glance, this self-taught and critically acclaimed artist, seems to be chaotically scribbling across the canvas. The scratching sounds of his nib against the rough surface of the canvas fill the air with a frenetic rhythm, reminiscent of Itzhak Perlman playing Paganini Caprices 01/05/24. Where Paganini pushes the violin, a classical instrument, to its limits with his compositions and Perlman pushes it to its limits with his skill; Bordin does both with this vintage Aurora fountain pen, known for its refined lines and sophisticated character. And when he’s done, a face has emerged from the chaotic tangle of inked lines. He refers to these faces as “presences,” and upon closer inspection, the eye focuses on smaller faces within the larger one. The images are beautiful and haunting.

Against the gritty backdrop of LA’s Downtown Arts District, with his vintage Aurora Magellan fountain pen in hand, Bordin finds inspiration; and, just as the gentrification of the abandoned industrial area has brought new life to the place, Bordin’s intense energy breathes new life into a vintage pen. His images, the complex layering of lines, thin and thick, light and dark, speak to the gritty, messy stories of life. The strength of past lives comes through in his haunted images, and the sturdy nib, which is ready to withstand, the intensity that Bordin wields. His art speaks well to the history and culture of this area and perhaps humanity, the rise and decay, the fall and reemerging of community and life. There is something apocalyptic yet magical in his energy, tools, and process. The energy is palpable. Not in words, but in images woven from the pigmented thread of his emotions and story that flow through the nib of his fountain pen.