Introducing New Contemporary Relief Art

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  • June 14, 2021

Over the past couple of months, we’ve shared snippets of our work-in-progress contemporary bas-relief artworks over on Instagram. Some of these pieces push the textural capabilities of our materials and others are experiments in abstraction, bringing the traditional technique of bas-relief into the 21st century.

One thing they all have in common, though, is that each is infused with the essence of who we are. Everything is a little bit Pigmentti. With so many new works to debut, we thought we’d share them all at once in this month’s blog post and explain the concept and method behind them. Read on for an insight into nine of our newest relief artworks from late 2020 and 2021.


Linen Acanthus

Linen is perhaps not the most obvious choice for a bas-relief background, but we admire its subtle textural quality and used it in this panel to showcase an intriguing new perspective. The acanthus leaf is a classical motif that was often used in historical ornamental design. We wanted to adapt its simple and fluid form to the contemporary moment through abstraction, showcasing the free movement of the artist’s hand using scagliola.

The result is an example of what can be achieved when experimenting with traditional and contemporary materials, designs and techniques. This is, after all, our overarching approach to the decorative arts and it’s our mission to showcase their almost endless versatility.


Linen Acanthus – relief artwork
0.64m x 0.54m


It’s incredible how a seemingly simple polishing technique can change the textural qualities of marmorino. Contrasting the granular texture of the raw material with its smooth, polished alter ego was a particular aim of ours in this piece.

We created an abstract design with a relatively minimalist aesthetic, inspired by a paper sculpture called ‘Paper Portrait – Hewn’ by Polyscene. This figurative design gave us ample space to experiment with complementary textural finishes, all while keeping to the natural colouring of the marmorino.


Breath – relief artwork
0.55m x 0.55m

Bacon’s Wings

The orange tempera patina of this bas-relief panel was inspired by the bold burnt orange that Francis Bacon used as a background in many of his paintings. Bacon’s influence continues into the scagliola sculpture itself, where the wings represent what we consider to be the artistic freedom of his mind.

The ways that modern artists translate a feeling or moment in time into physical matter inspires us just as much as the Renaissance and classical maestros who we look to for technicalities. To us, this scagliola bas-relief works with the versatility of the material and really emphasises its ability to translate seamlessly into the contemporary moment.


Bacon’s Wings– relief artwork
0.54m x 0.54m

Sun Flame & Clouds

Andreas Cellarius’ 17th century masterpiece engraving, the Planisphere of Copernicus, was our source of inspiration for this piece. In it, we brought together a trinity of our go-to natural materials to showcase how well they can work together in contemporary design. We used scagliola, marmorino with black bole, and 23.75 ct Platin gold leaf – the latter of which was sourced from the acclaimed gold leaf producers Manetti.

Quality is everything when it comes to materials and this specific carat of gold leaf allowed us to achieve our vision down to the smallest details. That is, to imitate flames from the sun and contrast them with black clouds inspired by the source of life – water suspended in rain clouds.


Sun Flame & Clouds – relief artwork
0.64m x 0.54m

Study of the Sea

Comparing the rough with the smooth was our aim in Study of the Sea, our bas-relief panel inspired by the ocean and its constant state of flux. We used incised scagliola as a base onto which we alternated between polished marmorino and roughly textured intonaco, comprising lime, sand and sawdust.

Sitting side-by-side, these textural contrasts mimic the unpredictability of the ocean’s movement and its perpetual motion. As with the majority of the panels featured in this post, we pared back the colour palette to give the materials a chance to sing on their own.


Study of the Sea – relief artwork
0.64m x 0.54m

Industrial Earth

For this piece, we wanted to bring together abstract, geometric and organic motifs using elements of the natural world in the materials themselves. One of our go-to materials, scagliola, is used alongside sand incised with rudimentary foliage to create a raw and all-natural finish.

We often talk about the versatility of bas-relief materials but to us, this panel really emphasises that quality.


Industrial Earth – relief artwork
0.64m x 0.54m


Scagliola is one of the most versatile materials in our armoury and our aim with Jigsaw was to showcase its various finishes in a contemporary way. The design concept for this piece came from looking at the spirals of a ring-bound notepad, which we use on a daily basis. We wanted to expand beyond scagliola, so we used patinated intonaco as a base and layered up the material in simple geometric forms before gilding with platinum leaf.

With the exception of the platinum leaf, all of the materials we used in this piece are natural and locally sourced. Keeping things organic is important to us and for this piece, we eschewed vibrant hues in favour of keeping the materials’ natural colour, too.


Jigsaw – relief artwork
0.64m x 0.54m

The Mouse’s Tail

Years spent developing our techniques as well as the versatility of scagliola means we can create incredibly intricate sculptural details like the miniature mouse you see here. We wanted to emphasise the swift and subtle nature of its movements, inspired by the whimsical nature of the mouse hidden in the folds of drapery.


The Mouse’s Tail – relief artwork
0.64m x 0.54m

Mellow Yellow

Boldness comes to the fore in this bas-relief panel in scagliola, where our emphasis was on showcasing the ways that colour can completely change the atmosphere of a piece. Varying shades of yellow scagliola offer a vibrant background for the fragmentary blue lines that appear to crack across the surface.

We chose contemporary primary colours to once again showcase the fact that bas-relief can be adapted to suit quite literally any design aesthetic. Our favourite fact about this panel is that the tones are entirely natural – they’re sourced directly from our suppliers at the Dolci Colori factory in Italy and are found in the natural world.


Mellow Yellow – relief artwork
0.64m x 0.54m

Academic study of texture

Making academic studies using our full range of bas-relief materials allows us to experiment with their form and textural capabilities. All of the materials we use are completely natural and we make them ourselves using recipes that were first formulated thousands of years ago. Despite their relative simplicity, each material has its own specific qualities and we love pushing their boundaries.

Our academic study of texture ranges from Cocciopesto (crushed brick and slaked lime) to marmorino (slaked lime and crushed marble), intonaco (slaked lime and sand) and scagliola (gypsum and bone glue), and they appear in grades from rough to smooth.


We hope this post helps you to get a better idea of where our inspiration comes from and the incredible versatility that working in bas-relief allows. If you have any questions or would like to acquire any artworks, please get in touch with us.

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