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Vanessa Pooley bronze sculptor

Friday, 21 August 2015

Baby in the Air – Choosing a base…

I decided to take a more relaxed approach with this little sculpture. And was thinking about Baltasar Lobo* (see more below) and his inspiring bronzes. He made a series of sculptures with the mother on her back and the baby thrown high in the air that I am particularly drawn to.

Baltasar Lobo was a spanish sculptor born in 1910. I came across his bronzes a few years ago and found that he was once the assistant of my favourite sculptor Henri Laurens. I feel a great affinity to Lobo’s work. There is a museum dedicated to his sculptures in northern Spain that I must get to!

I started to work on this little sculpture as usual, with no clear end in mind, just messing around with the forms. It turned into one of those sculptures where the quirky solution seems to fit. This piece has a slightly lighter touch and the baby is deliberately simplified. The hair is a bit different too -  I like to think that it’s ironic.

This small bronze takes after my earlier sculpture Geodude in the way it balances on its bottom. I used to feel that my sculptures should be free standing directly on the ground or a plinth but I have recently been experimenting with fixing them on bases. The first of the bronze edition of ‘Baby in the Air’ is freestanding but Wayne at his wonderful foundry Mckinny Bronze is now trying out a variety of bases in different materials and patinations for me.

Finding the right base is about playing with the different proportions, weights, sizes and tones until it works.  The addition of a base can make a huge difference to the way a sculpture works as can its patination. A base can give the sculpture something to relate to or contrast with in form, colour and or scale. For my sculptures the sharp and flat edges of the bases we are using set off my softer, rounded sculptural forms and the contrasting patinations bring out the richness of colour.

Wayne sent me this image of my little bronze on a persex base. I like the persex material very much but we rejected this version because I felt the base needed to be deeper.  Here you see the finished and sandblasted bronze - as yet unpatinated.

Next Wayne made this mini bronze base to fit the sculpture. I like the base but not the position of the sculpture. I prefer the sculpture to be square on and centred.  The diagonal placing I find a bit too quirky but I could be wrong about that…

Here it is centred now. Sculpture and base still in unpatinataed mode.

This is the final version for ‘Baby in the Air’ that we settled on for this casting.  Here it is centred and patinated with the bronze base and sculpture using different contrasting recipes.  I am really delighted with the result.

*Balthasar Lobo – Sotheby’s Catalogue Note.
“The study of the female nude and its use as an expressionist form is the backbone of Lobo’s work; both in terms of his representation of the bond between mother and child and an expression of the elegant sensuality of the female body.
Born in 1910 Baltasar Lobo started life in a world on the verge of being torn apart and put back together. Aged twelve he was taken in as an apprentice to the sculptor Ramon Nuñez. His passion for the art form quickly grew and in 1927, having won a scholarship to the School of Fine Art, Lobo moved from his home, Zamora, to Madrid to study. It was here that he was introduced to the work of Miró, Picasso and Gargallo and began to develop his unique artistic style. It was also during this time that Lobo became involved in the CNT movement and began to work for the Republic. At the end of the civil war and the rise of Franco’s dictatorship Lobo and his wife Mercedes Guillen fled Spain to start a new life in the heart of liberal Europe – Paris.
Having moved to Montparnasse Lobo immediately immersed himself in the exciting artistic movements taking over the city. Becoming friends with Pablo Picasso, Jacques Lipschitz and Henri Laurens (for whom he worked as an assistant) Lobo was able to feed off of their creativity and cultivate his own style. The relationships that he made in his first few years in Paris stayed with him for life. He exhibited alongside the Ecole de Paris in 1945 at the Galerie Vendôme and was thereafter accepted by the group putting works in the touring exhibitions in Tokyo, Oslo, Prague, Caracas and London.
Much like his contemporaries Jean Arp, Constantin Brancusi and Joan Miró Lobo was experimenting with the contours and shape of the female nude as a means of exploring abstraction. Like the modernists Picasso and Malevich, who through their work made significant reference to archaic and primitive forms of art, Lobo experimented with early Iberian sculpture in his most abstract works. His first solo exhibition was held in 1960 where the critics praised his work, especially Two Dead Spaniards which commented on the ferocity and terror of the Spanish Civil War. This work along with a number of others can now be found in public spaces in Madrid.

The simplistic form of Pièce d’eau highlights every aspect of Lobo’s practice and artistic ideal. Through the dark green patina and perfectly curved surfaces one can see and feel the serenity of the female nude. By only acknowledging the anatomy of the figure through smooth curves Lobo is able reduce the figure to its most simplified and naïve components to convey exquisite balance, form and femininity.”