Twenty Years

Twenty Years Your pencil draws an arch. You say, "This is the simplest, first sign of life". The arch transforms into a circle which subsequently grows bigger, pursuing its arch. After each change the energy increases. The stroke is swift, sweeping yet elegant. The vitality of the hand revealed in this way transforms itself into an independent being.

The structure of construction, plaster and pencil again: you mark on a plane new lines of forces, meant to become a wax network and then a bronze sculpture. This is how a work is born: you called it "Nest" (2002), "Time" (1994), or "Whirlpool" (1998). It is more a history of waves than of sources; the object which you create in this way exemplifies the phenomenon of growth.

Sculptures impersonate the magic of growth. Without a beginning and an end, they extol transformations, provoke the coming to life. In this manner they transmit energy, but also a sense of proximity.

You say, "I seek archaic biological forms". At the beginning you did not create either a black hole or a definite point but the "Arch" (1990): a simple and bow-shaped module, manifesting its existence, capable of reaction. Action or reaction, attraction or rejection, which occurs in an uncontrollable way. Extension, growth, this is what counts. "Turmoil" (2002), which you created in accordance with the same idea, assuming it would be exhibited flat on the ground, is covered with a relief shaped like bulbs that foreshadow germination. An absolute imperative of development and growth governs each of your decisions. Even the "Small Venus" (1991-1994) sprouts buds all over, a manifestation of fertility.

"I seek movement characteristic of plants, which expand in all directions, thus disintegrating form", you explain in reference to your most recent works ("Arche", 2003). Strange rhizomes that embody in a perfect way the need for growth and at the same time for anchorage.

Twenty years ago, observing closely, you began to study the phenomenon of construction and destruction, protection and sterility; you also noticed that excessive covering leads to suffocation. You entitled one of your first monumental projects the "Great Cuirass" (1986). You covered with leather or cast iron abstract forms made of cement or forgotten everyday objects. In this way was made "Renewed Animal" (1985) or the "Vehicle" (1985). The latter, filled with earth, ash and bread, is a sort of storehouse of its times, and is characteristic of the Polish art of the 1980s.

Time, then, became sealed. "I was confident that since always I had been going in a defined direction, but I did not know what the direction was. In 1985 I created ?Earth?, throwing a heavy stone against a sheet which was deformed by the impact.

Later I completed the ?Storehouses of the Earth? project, meant for Silesia, the most contaminated region in entire Poland".
The interest you exhibited at this period in the surface of form as a force that unites and collects, became one of the signature elements of your works. The objects which you later made of bronze have the same form of a "receptacle", out of which, however, metal has partly leaked. Pitted with ruptures and cracks with a Romantic drawing, it forms a titanic lace.

"Form remains open", you claim in reference to such works as "Whirlpool" (1998), "Icon" (1993), "Returning" (1991), "Stranger" (1992), "Crouched" (1993), or "Fall" (1995) and "Somersault" (1996). You say, "Structures matter more than sculptures". You have envisaged this mutation of forms so frequently that it bore fruit in a creative reflection. There is no reason for a work to be confined. This was demonstrated convincingly through Cézanne's search for infinity. And since still in the 19th century Victor Hugo maintained that beauty "to a limited extent only can remain unlimited by outlines", today you bind infinity and bring to life witnesses to the zones of turmoil and power.

In an effort to define the "Grand Spiral" (1990) you entered the entrails of a hollow form in order to shape it from inside, delicately, with the help of a simple tool - stone. Locating yourself physically inside the sculpture being created you provided it with breath. You often do this. This was also the case when you were creating "Life" (1993). "The question about the dialogue between structure and its axis has always tormented me", you recall your intensive sense of power which such close proximity to form brought about.

"I like Paleolithic drawings that represent animals placed one on top of another". If transformations and metamorphoses constitute one axis of quest, it means that this is a different way of your struggle with closure or imprisonment. Rapidly in search of changes, your sculptures begin with the "hand", and finish with a "river" ("The Styx", 1987). "Pegasus" (1991) originates in the "fish" and the "Unicorn" (2003) you have just created seems to confirm that. You like to capture the moment when the amorphous state becomes symbolic. There is nothing better than the alloy of bronze in which you create. It suits well your rejection of stability.

"People did not invent bronze. It is bronze that found them", you say. It is true that the power of this privileged material occupies an important position in your world. It is an equal partner that you listen to, accompany, but also direct. "Aiming at close-knit mass is the nature of bronze. The mind, interfering with this process, creates form - a sculpture. An absolute control of metal would mean a search for the effect such as the statue of Apollo, polite and decorative. A partial control, in turn, allows for a preservation of dialogue".

"Everything cannot be controlled", you argue besides in reference to "Chaos" (2002). The same concerns the "Grand Arch" (2002), a kind of composition which does not oppose a classical work but which escapes from it into the area between the two planes, in which "everything" does not mean "being everything", in which it is a sculpture all the same.

One should not oppose the tradition of the genre. You let us see, touch, circle, penetrate, and refresh our contact with this tradition, not betraying it. Some have announced the end of working in bronze. It so much defied today's connotations. Confirming and showing closure, you succeed in liberating it, providing a new definition of contemporary sculpture: Energizing. Open. Ambitious. And this has been going on for twenty years. You cannot possibly stop at that. Arch after arch, metamorphosis after metamorphosis, you continue to fascinate us. And so we will meet in twenty years. All the best for your anniversary.

Françoise Monnin Françoise Monnin
The artist's statements were collected in Paris
in November 2003

e-mail : lp.2o@tcudorptra