Tête du Bouddha

Sculpture (2)

Sculpture is the only artistic discipline that, along with music, is closely linked to the power of magic. What does that mean? Magic implies the power to influence, the ability to act directly on thoughts and feelings of other creatures. This magic, its action can be beneficial and it is called white magic, or harmful, malevolent, and we call it black magic. The issue here is not about any trade or specialization as it was the case in the past, throughout history, among wizards and sorcerers when these people deliberately, intentionally exerted their influence on other beings, sometimes in the right direction but more often with less benevolent intentions. Consequently, the word magic became questionable for many people. Nevertheless, it simply has to do with influence; that is all. We should know that influence is widely used by all, everyone uses it one way or another, be it with clothing, makeup, clean, seductive appearance, a fancy car or by publicity, images, slogans, etc. Without realizing it, we are surrounded by messages of all sorts to influence, lure us and very often, it works. Because if that would not be the case no one would bother to send these messages to us!
Therefore, we can say that this phenomenon of influence, on which magic is based, is a daily affair that is used by all creatures including animals, plants and precious stones. To stand out, to attract the attention of the other in a desired direction, there is a whole world of bright, sparkling phenomena, of colors, sounds, gestures and forms made available to everyone, day after day. Sculpture uses this world of forms to express what it seeks to demonstrate and thus, the question is: What does it attempt to express, to show?
We note that throughout history, sculpture has never ceased to speak to us in a symbolic language that has closely followed human evolution. The very first sculptures often showed human or animal figurines, in a sacred or purely human framework. The improved human form could be used to represent the deities or all kinds of high-ranking spirits. This same form could also be utilized to embody an individual of merit or be sculpted in the memory of someone to ensure they were not forgotten. Animal forms could also appear to have a link with certain deities or simply could be regarded as sacred animals. The animal might also have a “rapport” with hunting and thus indicate the link between man and his motivation towards this activity.
Sculpture as an art, unrelated to the sacred side of life, without a high goal, and even without a specific goal, appeared very late in human history. It is one of the artistic disciplines which has remained most faithful to its original idea, namely to express, to highlight an individual, an animal or any form or concrete idea, without involving a fantastic, hazardous or even unreal aspect in its execution. Right from the beginning on Earth, sculpture has so far remained very faithful to its original intentions, that is, to shape an underlying idea in a clear, concrete, direct way. Where other artistic disciplines could play with subtle blur, as it is the case for Impressionism, in painting, or the ethereal side in Romanticism, for music, or even theater “on the spot” without a script, sculpture has remained, to a high degree and for a long time, equal to itself, in the sense that it sculpts real forms, period! Of course, some artists have also tried to introduce new currents, such as the use of steel or metal, or through the technique of “random jet” by projecting clay or concrete in front of you. However, sculpture generally did not seem to be open to this kind of currents or ideas. It seemed to find it difficult to bear contact with many other materials and the random gesture did not really suit this discipline. As for fuzzy ideas, they also found it difficult to express themselves in sculpture. Thus, sculpture remained equal to itself; it confronts us with a visible, concrete reality and needs a clear, precise idea.
Therefore, the mere question is: has the idea behind the forms in spite of everything changed over time? Were the intentions of the sculptor of the past the same as those of the modern sculptor? And, talking about development, might an evolution be ascertained at those levels?
(to be continued)