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.

My-first-surrealistic-piece

My-first-surrealistic-piece

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!

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.