Art of bronze

“Out of the world” (text of Philippe Staib in May 2012)

Val is an enchantment to me. The way she evolves fascinates me.
As I observe her latest creations, I strive to fathom what makes her strength.
Many of us can feel said strength, if the enthusiasm around her art is anything to go by.
I am not the only one who considers her with growing interest. Why is that?

A reflection about art in general and the now ritual question posed by Paul Gauguin “Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we headed?” leads nowhere.
Are all of us facing complete emptiness, with no common past, wondering how to lean on our experience and cultivate our differences? These questions can spin into a potentially harmful, endless spiral, in which we may all lose sight of the importance of art in our lives.

I’d much rather stick to this definition of art as given by Tàpies (who has just passed away):

“A work of art should be a thing, an object filled by the artist with mental energy, a sort of electric charge that, once touched by a viewer with the appropriate sensitivity, triggers determined emotions.”

Val has all the necessary components to make us feel the electric charge that summons up our emotions.

Mental energy: Val carries her whole personal experience with sincerity: as she was young, she travelled the world, came across and observed many social and cultural environments… Then, she had a life-consuming job that requires great strengths and squeezes those who succeed in it like lemons… These phases nourish a personality if they do not obliterate it. Val has fed on her own life, which has not been a bed of roses. She has used it to enrich her personality and desire to exist by herself.

Electric charge: One day, the contact with clay triggered something that has been going on for ten years and is nowhere near the end. Val expresses herself modeling beings and situations and their environments with an eye that is hers only, full of the past she could not control and pushed her forward. She unloads her visions into a creative matter of clay or wax. It is every sculptor’s dream to live near a foundry, and Val does. This enables her to keep up the electric charge initiated at the creation stage throughout all the bronze reproduction process. It is a direct line between what she perceives and feels and the metallic outcome.

Very few sculptors have experienced the thrill of controlling their creations up to their metallic forms. She admirably masters the process, a key aspect of her work: the unlikely encounter between a perfectly genuine human being and clay, then metal.

We now have to understand why so many viewers with an “appropriate sensitivity” gather around her work.

At “Art Taipei”, I saw people show up early in the morning saying: “I have been looking to purchase a sculpture, I have finally found it”. They chose “Les Mariés III”. At the “Shanghai Art Fair”, a Malay couple told me they had flown in hoping to find a sculpture by Val. They went for “Parade”.

I can think of so many other examples.

How can this be accounted for?
Certainly not by describing her art within a current or through an inspiration by great predecessors.

Instead, I think we receive 100% of the electric charge generated by her mental energy. Her energy was not “enriched” by artistic studies which can turn out to be overwhelming for a young creator, not “enriched” by the veneration for a great artist who can influence but also imprison a young creative mind. Her life, her soul observes the world, she tells us what she sees, what she feels from her heart. Her simplicity, her honesty and her heart open onto the world are the focus of our tired eyes, exhausted by all the visual complications of our now-oriented civilization where all sorts of schemes abound to distract us.

It is the direct line between her mental energy and the electric charge she displays in her work that we all perceive so clearly. [ + ]