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Nubuo Sekine

Nobuo Sekine Interview: Sensibility of a Rock from Louisiana Channel on Vimeo.

‘One day, as one large rock that was on the ground was being lifted into the air — at that exact moment — I had an epiphany that this action had changed the meaning of its existence’ Nabuo Sekine

Japanese Sculptor Nobuo Sekine passed away a few days ago. He was one of the originators of Mono-Ha, a conceptual art movement from the late sixties that I find interesting but elusive. I’m hesitant to even try to describe it, I feel too distant from the time period and the culture, other than to say that a lot of it has roots in the Japanese rock garden tradition. There are other influences at play as well, but I see elements of both the rock garden philosophy and craft, and kindred ideas about materials, context, and spatial relationships. A lot of Sekine’s works use found objects, frequently those found objects are stones, and, as can be seen in this video, a lot of his work seem to have its origin in the artist standing and staring at a stone and meditating on how to transform it into a work of art.

Castelvecchio Stone

After Brion I visited Castelvecchio Museum, one of Carlo Scarpa’s other masterpieces, a beautiful restoration of a 14th century castle. Scarpa did a masterful job of revealing the historic architecture while adapting it to its new use as a museum. Like Brion, it’s been written about a great deal; Carlo Scarpa/Museum of Castelvecchio is one example that can be read online. I loved the building, but I was also fascinated by how he displayed the stone sculptures in the museum. I don’t usually pay a great deal of attention to this kind of figurative and religious statuary, but some of the ones at Castelvecchio are particularly expressive and Scarpa did a terrific job of displaying them. Almost every one has some touch from Scarpa to make the piece better. This statue of Jesus is a brilliant composition, immeasurably better because of the window. It’s lit like a Vermeer.

It might be the most anguished single stone I’ve ever seen. Apparently it was originally placed at the entrance to a leprosy hospital, the idea being to remind everyone that no matter how much the people with leprosy might suffer, Jesus suffered more.

Displayed across from the Jesus statue, Scarpa placed a statue of Mary collapsing as she witnesses her son’s suffering. The chiaroscuro lighting, emphasizing her face dropping into shadow and the crumpling S curve of her body, is straight from a Renaissance painting. (more…)

Stone Topo Models

The other thing, along with drawing, that saved Venice for me was going to the Biennale. I hadn’t planned on going, but it was out of the heat and away from the main tourist hordes and in the end I liked it a lot.

I found a lot of the pavilions interesting. Maybe the best was the German exhibition about the Berlin Wall, with a couple of perspective games — isolated panels that from a certain vantage point appeared to be a continuos wall, and a mirror trick that made the wall appear infinite — and genuinely interesting info about the wall’s past and present. I gave it my highest rating, a full Hasselhoff.

But my favorite was the Mexico exhibition: architectural models fabricated in stone and mounted as wall panels. Maybe I’m the exact target audience. Afterwards I found it was completely absent from all of the ‘best of the biennale’ listicles; maybe it’s not flashy enough, there’s a lot of gray and a lot of the same stone. But I think it’s a great series; there’s a nice range of scales, a varying degree of abstraction, and the fabricators used a few different techniques to make the models.

Another half dozen are below. (more…)

Jorge Jimenez Deredia Sculptures in Lucca

Along with Carrara, one of the other places I ended up visiting instead of Florence was Lucca, a town which turned out to be great. I’d never heard of it, but apparently it’s a popular destination; Italy has no end of wonderful places to visit and a couple of my favorite places were ones I’d never heard of beforehand. And instead of seeing David, I got to see a lovely outdoor exhibition of sculptures by Jorge Jimenez Deredia that were scattered throughout Lucca’s old town. Deredia is a Costa Rican sculptor who has lived in Italy since the 70’s. He does a nice job of synthesizing classical and modern, old world and new, figurative and abstract. The most impressive is this one here, which was sited just outside the gate to the old town. It’s huge, hopefully the photos give a sense of its scale.

I think the marble is from the nearby Carrara quarries I showed in my last couple posts. He has studied and had a workshop there, and the stone looks right for Carrara, with lovely flecks of gray mixed into the white marble. There’s a softness and fleshiness to it, really beautiful.

He also works in black granite and bronze. I’m rarely interested in bronzes, but his are great. He credits seeing the Boruca spheres in his native Costa Rica at age nine as the foundational moment of his art, and pretty much everything he does relates to the sphere. From what I can tell, he does three things: curvy women, curvy women interacting with spheres, and quadtychs that show spheres transforming into curvy women. The Lucca exhibition didn’t have any of the complete quadtychs, but the works on exhibit made a nice overview and a fun objective as I pedaled around the town center looking for them.

A couple more are below. His website shows more of his work and includes some worthwhile videos, including two that show the installation at Lucca and one that shows the creation of a large bronze. (more…)

A Continuous Shape, Stonecarver Video

A Continuous Shape from Eyes & Ears on Vimeo.

A great portrait of stonecarver Anna Rubincam as she herself creates a three dimensional portrait in stone. I particularly like seeing the mix of hand and power tools used in the process. The directors talk about the making of the film here.

Jorge Yazpik Miscellany

This is a selection of Jorge Yazpik’s work that was on display inside the museum, an interesting mix with a progression from sculptures to architectural models. I won’t say much about them, which is apparently what he prefers. He doesn’t give titles or explanations or even call out his materials, and in videos talking about his work (in Spanish), he talks about letting people interpret the works however they want, letting them see without predisposition. He says when you listen to music, no one tells you how to listen. So, I guess, just have a listen, take a look. (more…)

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