Songline from Australia

Some of you might think this post has a tenuous connection to sculpture but I just have to share this video I made in a native art shop in Cairns, Australia last July.

In my mind, the activities of creating sculpture and didgeridoo music have much in common: both are forms of artistic communication and emerge from a misteriously indefinite place and both can, without a spoken word, transport us to new realizations and states of mind.


My first surrealistic piece

Saturday 25, Sept. 2010

Maybe it’s the Belgian air, perhaps a recent visit to the Magritte museum, or being back in an art class at the RHOK Academie but something great happened today: I created my first surrealistic 3-D object.



It was my second exercise since starting the course last Thursday. Tjerrie Verhellen, my teacher, gave me a half of a broken brick and asked me to find something that fit next to the irregularly broken side. Once I found such object, he said, it will be interesting to look at how the 2 parts, the broken brick (positive) and the other piece (negative) will look like next to each other, and you can then develop the new piece in an novel direction. I was in a hurry so I went for the fastest way to get the job done and I grabbed some plastiline and pressed it against the broken side of the brick, wrapped the new object in a plastic bag and headed to RHOK.

When I showed Tjerrie how I approached the exercise he gave me some clay working tools and encouraged me to develop the plastiline part in an interesting way. Last Thursday Tjerry told me about the water theme
he gave his class for this year in view of preparing a student exhibit. So, I first I shaped the plastiline (negative) part into a flowing line form reminiscent of a water drop, and also of a dolphin dorsal fin, or a wave.

Tjerry looked at what I had done and suggested continuing from the lines and texture made by the broken brick into the plastiline part. That’s when I noticed that the broken part of the brick (positive) showed part of
round hole. This reminded me of the round top part of a keyhole.

So, continuing from that hole I carved into the plastiline the rest of the keyhole. Tjerry liked my idea and asked me to stop right then and there and placed the whole thing on a pedestal. Later we will make a mold and a cast.

In the context of my class, the keyhole, when combined with the wave form, for me is a symbol for the unlocking (enabling or freeing) of my artistic potential and, as it happens, my first surrealistic piece!

Visit at Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre in Whistler B.C.

Carver Aaron-Nelson-Moody

At the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, Native master carvers Aaron Nelson Moody and Delmar Williams were working on a commission of Pacific Northwest Coast Salish styled house panel carvings. We arrived at the Cultural Centre yesterday on a rest day from skiing and when I found out that today there would be two carvers I canceled my plans to ski to meet and watch them working on a cedar panel. Both Aaron and Delmar were extremely approachable while they worked and were a treasure trove of information on their Native designs, carving techniques and tools and, perhaps the most fascinating, Squamish-Lil’wat culture such as legends and customs. Aaron and Delmar showed me handles for carving tools they hand-made and even let me try those tools on the panels they were carving. We actually spent quite a long time talking about anything and by the end of two good hours I felt like we were old friends. Perhaps because of his dual ancestry (Scottish father and Native mother) Aaron is uniquely positioned to act as a cultural ambassador and myth dispeller with all the non-native visitors. Later I researched information about Aaron Nelson-Moody and found a few sites with reference to some high profile work he completed in connection with the 2006 and this year’s winter Olympics. More about Aaron in a recent interview with Pique News Magazine. When we parted we exchanged contact information and Aaron picked up his hand-held drum and accompanied himself while singing us a short song. Aaron Nelson-Moody’s Parting Song from Piergiorgio Barbarich on Vimeo A truly serendipitous visit!

Henry Moore at the Tate Britain in London

Henry Moore at the Tate Britain Museum

It was with trepidation that, while in London, I visited a major indoor retrospective of Henry Moore at the Tate Britain 22 years after his death.  I was aware of Moore’s weight, touted as the most important British sculptor of the 20th century, and had seen his huge pieces in some European cities.  Still, I didn’t know very much about the sequence of Moore’s artistic phases or their background.  There was something I liked in Moore’s modernistic style and restrained formality. The curator’s stated intent was to revisit Moore and for the first time expose some of the artist’s less known sinister edge and raw sexuality.

Despite Moore’s dark side seeming rather normal today, I was quite satisfied with the curators’ choices and presentation and impressed by both the breadth and depth of Moore’s work.  Moore’s mastery of the medium, whether stone, wood, plaster, or bronze, also amazed me.  I was transported by Moore’s work back in the eclectic 30s by some of his Picasso-like forms and into the dark wartime by his very expressive drawings from the London shelters during bomb raids. In the final room of his huge elm reclining figures I felt like when I was in front of

Moore in his garden at Perry Green, Hertfordshire

Moore in his garden at Perry Green, Hertfordshire

Michelangelo’s Slaves.

After my visit I read some negative reviews about the Moore exhibit and his work. It was clear to me that those authors, perhaps because of their younger age, viewed Moore’s work in a limited way and failed to place it in its context.  While Moore’s sculptures and drawings might not be as animated as those by other masters, his passion for his work and engagement with the surrounding world definitely come through.  Moore’s modernistic and abstract work is probably less approachable than more realistic works. As for me, I came away from the Tate exhibit knowing myself a bit better, feeling richer, more erudite, exhilarated, and lucky to have gazed at and been touched by Moore’s figures.


Welcome to inFORM, a blog mostly logging the making of my art and all that’s connected.  I will also comment on artists and art-related people I met, review sculptures I saw, sculpture galleries or parks I visited, sculpture web sites, articles, magazine, or books I read, sculpture-related movies I saw or radio shows I heard.

I am looking forward to your comments, observations and contributions which will enrich the blog and keep it vibrant.

So, whatever your background and your relation with sculpture: Welcome! Benvenuti! Servus! Bienvenu! Willkommen, Velkommen! Heahea !

Rapolano Terme Sculpture Park

On Sunday 12 Nov. 2006 Terry Thommes, a friend sculptor from Florida, took me to visit the Rapolano Terme Sculpture Park just a short drive North-West from the city of Arezzo.

Terry at the park entrance

The park was placed side by side to a travertine quarry. All sculptures in the park were created during competitions using travertine stone from the adjacent quarry. Rapolano is where Baroque sculptors, such as Bernini the creator of Rome’s Piazza Navona, found their travertine stone.

Rapolano Sculpture Park

I had never seen so many contemporary pieces in travertine and in this scale before. Travertine seems well suited for carvings with modern designs.