The text has been featured in the catalogue from the exhibition
“The Matter of Balance” in 2008
THE MATTER OF BALANCE
Perhaps it’s hard to believe, but the discovery of the balancing sculpture motif, continuously pervading my works, has been quite a surprise to me. Already in the course of my studies, while I was occupied with considerations about composition, relations between forms in space, I didn’t realize that a number of sculptures balancing upon a single point were right there, as if they were inviting me to read the subconscious messages, hidden inside them.
Even after studies, while working in retreat of the Nurembergian Academy, analyzing the formal structures of dynamic structures inspired by human body, it did not seem unusual that, out of innumerable of opportunities, I chose the system in which the model stands as solid on their one foot as a stork.
At that point the establishment of “the matter of balance” for at least next few sculptures was set. Perhaps that time, when I was preparing new documentation or maybe with another several sculptures, I was come across with that belated reflection that something was wrong, mainly that the amount of balances was too striking to attribute it to merely fleeting fascination. In fact, that didn’t seem to suit me fine. After all, a sculptor secretly dreams of invoking a sensation of strength and stability, demonstrated through large masses, thus standing firmly as they represent strife between the concept and the matter. But instead, I still make those lean, half-long sculptures which surprise, even myself, with their ability to even stand on their own.
Even few years after, when I was daydreaming about slightly simpler and more chunky forms, I wasn’t surprised with the reappearance of the renewed version of “the matter of balance”, which happened unexpectedly in-between my considerations about completely different matters which together with “the matter of balance” comprise a set of three main strands of my research in the field of sculpture.
I. SCULPTURE AND BALANCE
Sculpture is a special discipline for me. I had an opportunity to refer to it as “one of these interesting and valuable ways of actually reaching our humanity”. Sculpture might be, (perhaps it should be) an activity suspended in between the very concept and the continuously resistant matter. Personal grapples with that matter introduce to individual’s life humbleness and understanding, allowing them to get the insight into the world of form and the contents carried through, and consequently into the relations between the world of forms and the human as a cultural individual. I perceive sculpture as a connector with life, also valuable in relations with other people.
BALANCE expresses itself in many different ways in the presented sculptures. It manifests in the attempts of the very immediate balance of forms, as well as, with the use of rather static forms, in more complex intentions of retrieving the sensation of “catching the balance” - balancing which emerges somewhere in the addressee’s mental space. Employing sets, of which forms are highly contrasting with one another or even completely contrary media, and an attempt of integrating them into a homogenous structure, with a simultaneous desire to demonstrate a vast number of its similarities and differences, has become quite a challenge to me. A sustained excuse to draw on “the matter of balance”.
I find the DIALOGUE with matter to be one of the most important aspects of sculpture. I would even go further by calling it essential, as it is one of those rare aspects which allows to bear the traditional comprehension of the sculpture definition – 20-centuries lasting attempts of extending and bridging its borders.
Dialogue, as it is in case of “the conversation with matter”, has to include and present its character as well as alter and modify our intentions, visions and ideas regarding it. As to simplify, sculpture cannot be just “ready” conceived idea made of material. Material co-creates the very idea and perhaps might be the most privileged to inspire the final form of the idea. Not mentioning that sculptors very often initiate their creativity process from – seemingly – its very end stage. From the observation of the material to discovering the idea – sort of shaman dance, evoking rain during drought.
Understanding of matter and the dialogue with matter seem to be very crucial for the contemporary sculpture for few reasons. It wasn't until sculptors began to implement thinking "through matter" – when the discipline of sculpture freed its potential from constant and prostrating impacts of architecture, painting, engineering, conceptualism, and contemporary design. Nowadays, the irresistible influence of architecture is again growing up, thus belittling sculpture’s role to what one can call city’s “jewelry”. Most importantly though, “dialogue” with matter makes us become aware of the status quo of the sculpture concept, sense and value of which vanish when overdrawn.
II. BODY – PRIMARY INSPIRATION OF SCULPTURE
DYNAMICS, PLASTICITY, STRUCTURE
Although problems of the influence and inherency of the body in my works I am describing as the second part, they have always been my target activity I was looking into – the primary direction of my research. Perhaps the reason for that was that body with its whole lesson on dynamics, plasticity, consistency of structure and powerful expressiveness, has been one of the most important inspirations for my work in sculpture. Sculptures created during the years 2000-2001 were the effect of an intensive, analytical work inspired by body, its structure and the forces which it expresses while moving. All that was to pick out the nature and the logic of the particular system, a formal and compositional situation in which presented individual happened to be in, and to express this phenomenon in an abstract form. Such form should be based on contents from the analysis conducted. Starting with paper, ending with steel, one pattern considered and mutual to those works has been changing its “look”, thus taking on different forms depending on the requirements of the medium used in work.
Years 2002-2007 were devoted to creating sculptures, which were a result of seeking synthesis and balance between diverse aspects of experiences in the field of sculpture. Their form relates to an attempt of the present-day statement, simultaneously preserving most primary experience, which throughout the centuries has been framing the very character of the notion: sculpture.
My fascination with the dynamics and plasticity of the body is, consequently, a fascination with plasticity of things in general. “Plastic nature”, intensity of life and life's transitions, rhythm, and possibilities of snatching this very phenomenon into solid form, are occurrences that attract me to sculpture most. They express the capabilities, that sculpture holds, to epitomize ( that is the impression of the presence of life expressed in sculpture; an abstract vital power; the presence of spirit in matter). I like sculptures with the defined markings of an activity, a reflection, and progress. These imprints bespeak for power, which creates them. But they also say a lot about the matter, in which an imprint is made.
Recumbent figures, created on the basis of small artistic sketches, are, on one hand, a continuation of the work with “body”, but on the other, a part of large research inscribed in discovering “the language of sculpture”. They make a reference to one of the sculptures’ archetype expositions of torso and an attempt of engaging in the dialogue with sculptures referring to this theme already for years in a mastery manner. I mean two particular sculptors, such as Henry Moore and Tim Scott.
III. REFLECTIONS ON “FREE ARCHITECTURE”
Shapes, Fragments, Essences
Reflections on “free architecture” is a title displaying a little paradox latent inside. It is a title that arose in my head for naming and putting together a number of small, seemingly irrelevant works, sketches and inspirations. They grew on the grounds of polemic with the architecture. Willingness for releasing something what not necessarily needs to be released, as it supposedly should be subordinated to function, is justified. Architecture need the experience that sculpture have to be precursory and vivid. Similarly sculpture, when the aspect of its architectural structure, framing and statics are neglected, soon becomes meaningless aspic. Another oxymoron lies in the fact that the two disciplines, history of which have interweaved for so long, have as much in common as if they were complete aliens. An inevitable friend, a cruel enemy ready to absorb the more delicate identity. The world of geometrical figures, planes and lines is collided with uncontrolled changeability, vitality and softness of the biological shapes. Dual co-existence of quiescency and motion with an array of all sorts of tensions between them.
Classic sculptors, such as Anthony Caro or Eduardo Chillida, who held knowledge and displayed engagement in architectural activities, managed to conjoin those two disciplines in an astonishing manner. Caro has even coined a new notion for several of his works, namely “sculpitecture”. My journey to Zabalga, where Chillida lived and created, made me come to these conclusions, on grounds of which I made such pieces as “Three Graces”, “Stories for two keys”, dedicated to the deceased a month before artist. These works draw my attention towards the relations between small, “independent” in their character forms (components, modules) and their capabilities of entering bigger, more holistic structures. I was interested in how certain distinct, separate forms can fit into and form homogenous structure. Perhaps it was then when my first inspirations for my present activities emerged, including searching for little, essential for sculpture shapes and forms, which might be expressed as constituents of the language of sculpture or at least in conjoining and intriguing manner pointing at its diverse aspects.
Classic sculptors, such as Anthony Caro or Eduardo Chillida, who held knowledge and displayed engagement in architectural activities, managed to conjoin those two disciplines in an astonishing manner. Clot has even framed a new notion for several of his works, namely “sculpitecture”. My journey to Chillida-Leku Museum, where Chillida created, allowed me to come to the conclusions, on grounds of which I made such pieces as “Three Graces”, “Stories for two keys”, dedicated to the deceased in year 2002 artist. These works draw my attention towards the relations between small, “independent” in their character forms (components, modules) and their capabilities of entering bigger, more holistic structures. I was interested in how certain distinctiveness can fit into and form homogenous structure. Perhaps it was then when my first inspirations for my present activities emerged, including searching and sculptural framing which might be expressed as constituents of the language of sculpture or at least in conjoining and intriguing manner pointing at its diverse aspects.
Janusz Janczy, 2008
/translated by Małgorzata Bigaj/