3rd Sculptors’ Symposium in France

Mirosław Rydzak

                Can anybody live without art?… I guess so, but on the other hand it seems very unlikely because art has been blended into man’s history in every and each stage of his development.
Nevertheless, it is generally said that artists, their works of art and audience are in crisis and it is not difficult to find the causes. It is even easier to justify this crisis with economic difficulties, and to some extent this may be true.
I took a more comprehensive look at this problem and found out that it is not the level of financial resources that determines our need for contact with art or our aesthetic sensibility. I venture to say that art can exist and develop only where it forms the integral part of human life, and not where it is just a luxury addition. By being surrounded with art we feel that it becomes as indispensable as the air that we breathe.
In May this year I attended yet another artistic event organised in the country in which there is no life without art – in France.
France is one of the most important centres of contemporary art as well as the cradle of modern art. When speaking of France we must mention Paris – this unique, perfect and unparalleled city, as well as many other cities and small towns like Caraix, Fontaines sur Saone, or Marseillian where, thanks to the effective work of lovers of art and artists themselves, new talents are born and even the most daring artistic ideas are received without astonishment. Paris is the heart of a living and healthy organism in which art flows like blood, and like god’s nectar it reaches big cities and small towns from which it derives the power for its existence and development.
The 3rd International Biennial Exhibition of Sculpture “Les Mains d’Or” was organised this year from the 3rd to the 13th of May in Fontaines sur Saone – a small town near Lyon. This is a new kind of meeting which becomes more and more popular in many countries. Such meetings combine the exhibition of works of modern art and the public showing of artists at the process of creation. The artistic goals of this enterprise are as follows: showing sculptures to a wide audience, transfer of artistic taste to new generations, bringing the secrets of artist’s profession closer to the audience, provoking artists from various countries into confrontation of artistic trends, and  creation of conditions for establishing the ties of friendship among artists who, due to the character of their profession, are usually reserved and detached. The organisers have no difficulties with accomplishing the above objectives since the creation process takes place at the square located near a busy street so that the whole process can be observed by passers-by, from the windows of nearby houses and passing cars. I saw many people pull their cars over to see an undirected sculptor’s spectacle and some of the passers-by even attempted their own artistic skills and participated in the show for a short time. Every participant, regardless of his or her age and education, had a chance to come in contact with art in different phases of its creation. Thanks to the above actions, art ceases to have an overbearing gallery style and meets its audience half-way at the squares and in the streets, and, after a time, becomes the integral part of everyday life. Because of this, people come here to satisfy their soul’s desire just as they would come to a health resort to treat their ailments. I must admit that interest in art is visible everywhere and that galleries and museums are always full of visitors. The biennial exhibition has been a great success for six years now (1000 visitors at the previous exhibition and about 1500 visitors at the current exhibition, not to mention those people who participated in this event through radio and TV).
I also had the honour to be invited to participate in this artistic event as an artist and academic teacher. My participation consisted of the exhibition of sculpture at the collective exhibition and a public presentation of the techniques I use in creative work. I sculpted two sculptures in two logs of wood, each 2 meters long  (Composition 1 and Composition 2). Traditionally for my artistic work, I richly decorated my sculptures with pure and expressive colours which I could accomplish thanks to the high resin content in the wood and ….. the sun.
Bearing in mind that the event had an educational, popular and didactic character, I presented the traditional method of work in wood, preceded by numerous drawing drafts. I sculpted using a chisel and a carpenter’s axe, gradually proceeding to work with the use of electromechanical tools and then I used the method taking advantage of both types of tools at the same time.
Apart from me, the following sculptors also participated in the symposium: G. Fabreguettes, A. Deviras, B. Lombardo, G. Doux, P. Maurin, A. Fortin, S. Janpol, B. Jaillet, F. Laspesa, A. Dethoor, F. Piquet Vadon, Ch. Videlier (President of the “Le Mains d’Or” exhibition), F. Agate, M. Rydzak, G. Luquet.
The effect of their work included wood and stone sculptures. The additional highlight of the exhibition was the presentation of icon painting and the colouring of pottery and china.
As I already mentioned, the artistic complement to the show was the exhibition of the finished sculptures sent in for the competition from different countries. Some of the sculptures delighted the visitors with the precision of realism, others with the fancifulness and imaginativeness of abstract figures. 124 works of artists from 15 European countries were shown.
The highlight of my visit was the gold medal for the wood sculpture awarded to me by the jury of the “Les Mains d’Or” competition.
The award ceremony took place during the official closing of the exhibition. Among the participants there were many artistic celebrities from France and the ambassadors of those countries whose artists presented their works. Sławomir Czarlewski, Polish Consul General,  was also there.