这些具有灵魂的等人大小人体木雕出自欧洲木雕刻家Bruno Walpoth，他出生的南蒂罗尔Grödental山谷地区在几个世纪以来一直是欧洲宗教艺术品的主要提供地，Bruno Walpoth家族所从事的的行业都与木材有关。Bruno Walpoth在慕尼黑艺术学院学习后，成为一名自己所梦想的全职雕刻艺术家。
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ON BRUNO WALPOTH
The sculptor, or to be more precise, the wood sculptor Bruno Walpoth is from a region in which an artistic involvement with wood has been a tradition in many families of sculptors for generations. The region of the Grödental valley in South Tyrol has supplied Europe with mainly religious artworks for centuries, and was where masters taught their pupils how to work wood, a living material.
Bruno Walpoth’s father was an exception to this genealogy. His grandfather and his father’s brother, his uncle, however provided important role models and the inspiration for starting an artistic career. He learned the required techniques of working wood from a “master”.
After a long period of both religious and non-religious commissions he was able to fulfil his desire to study at an academy, when he became a student of Hans Ladner at the Munich Art Academy. It was in Munich that he created “Schreitender mit Hose” [Pacing Figure with Trousers] (1984) – a figure already displaying the method which he would thereafter continue to adhere to, that of leaving traces of the chisel on garments, whilst finely rasping the areas of body surface. The paint, predominantly white, covers the body in such a way that materiality is not denied, revealing that this is a wooden figure, whilst also serving as a means of unifying the finishing. The more coarsely treated garment elements are mostly coloured, as are the hair, the lips, nipples and eyes. The body surface is occasionally suggestive of marble, this impression however is dispelled under close viewing. Walpoth usually chooses youthful models, both male and female ones. The choice of models is essential to the success of the sculpture, in the dialogue that the artist conducts with the model. The work is not about creating a portrait likeness, but rather is an act of subtle idealisation. If we were to situate Bruno Walpoth within the context of contemporary life-size realist sculpture, it would be quickly revealed, how little he has in common either with the hyperrealism of the Americans John de Andrea, Duane Hanson and George Segal, the conceptually orientated work of Ron Mueck or Charles Ray, or the neo expressionist figures of Stefan Balkenhol. The practice closest in comparison to his position would be that of the Japanese wood sculptor Funakoshi, whose work originates in the traditions of Japanese temple sculptors, but which today has taken a completely different direction, that of the fantastic-grotesque tradition. Concerning the question of role models, the artist cites the Florentine sculptors of the early Renaissance, and above all those who recreated their youthful models in pale marble, lending them the aura of idealised beauty. In preparing the finished works, the artist employs drawings, photographs, models in a smaller scale, but above all the crucial presence of the ideal model in person is required. The development of Bruno Walpoth’s work leads to an introverted, serene figure which appears to be conducting an internal dialogue, the hands loosely hanging down evoking concentration. It is not the artist’s intention to convey a message, but nevertheless the body language – I intentionally avoid the term “pose” – is an expression of the model’s disposition, additionally the way the hands are held further serves to characterise the person. Cases exist where the sculptor specified a gesture, which the model was then able to recognise as their own. What interests him about youthful bodies is not primarily the psychological dimension, which we as viewers seek to interpret, the erotic or even sexual dimension, the question of the psychological-physical identity of the pubescent androgynous figure, or the motivation behind the melancholic introversion. No, for Walpoth it is primarily the firm body, not yet aged and flagging, which conveys his concept of beauty. It is a human at the zenith of their physical development. The sculptor does not employ the traditional classical pose of a supporting and leading leg, but rather positions the sculpture frontally before the viewer. It seems a life-size figure, appearing in real space in front of us and without a plinth, is his ideal. Photographs also show the sculptures in outside spaces. For a long period of time he was involved with busts – here again the classical tradition is apparent. The bodies remained clothed or were naked, and he also experimented with other materials, such as lead. Bruno Walpoth’s sculptures link the existential hic et nunc of his contemporary models with a subtle classicism from a formal tradition, revealing a desire for beauty.
The human form, the body, is he major subject around which Bruno Walpoth’s artistic oeuvre revolves.
The sculptor favours a piece of monumental lime wood from which to liberate his figures but also uses nut wood and birch and does so by reducing the material with chisel and file until only the realistic features of a human effigy remain. The life-size young women and men that have been extracted appear motionless. It appears as if in very the moment of being brought to life by the hand of the artist, their movements again become paralysed. Their haggard bodies stand there with frozen gestures and facial expressions; their arms stretched out either before them or sideways but only rarely bent or intertwined. In their decidedly tense poses Bruno Walpoth’s full-figure sculptures, along with his torso-less and legless busts, appear introverted static and unaffected by their surroundings. Sometimes their gaze is averted and other times it is straight ahead and directed towards the viewer. Their eyes do not wander in search of contact, they are not trying to catch the eye, rather – as is consistent with their pose – they are fixed in concentration and directed inwardly. The pupils are dull and the lids sometimes even closed, their gaze in any case remains tangible. They generate presence in space.
Bruno Walpoth uses models as the source for his portraits, who he anatomically reproduces and presents as life-size figures. However he is not concerned with his subjects being identifiable but rather more with mimesis. The distinctive characteristic features of the personality that represent individuality in traditional portraiture, are played down in his sculptural reproductions.
Each new figure is a challenge, an attempt by the artist to breathe a living soul into carved wood. The true to life form of the body is the means to an end, the conveyor of the psyche, which the viewer has turned inside out whilst imagining the mental state of the figure. Walpoth’s figures are not a revival of lost ideals but rather trough the presence of the public they are repositories, reflecting the viewer’s own store of impressions.
Frequently the wooden figures are naked or only partially clothed, so that the bone structure of the apparently androgynous bodies which he predominantly favours is made clearly visible. Whilst the unclothed parts of the figures have been sanded down smoothly and exhibit a skin-like texture, the clothed or hirsute areas are rougher, displaying traces of the chisel or of being painted with pastel-like pigment. The smoothly polished skin shows traces of white piant: permanent “whitening” of the naked areas of the body is achieved through meticulous sanding, working the paint on the surface into the wooden material thus reinforcing the pure, virtually translucent character of the skin whilst simultaneously dehumanizing it. The wood’s matter itself becomes transformed – even more so when coated in white – appearing dematerialized. The material itself therefore becomes irrelevant; it is rather the form that is highlighted.
This effect of a transcendental being is particularly clear in the work Hermaphrodite, which depicts a horizontal figure, lying stretched out on the floor. The eyes are closed, however the body language generates a feeling of extreme tension, so that rather than sleeping it is better interpreted as being in a virtual metaphysical state. The graceful physique, the slender limbs and the fine facial features are initially reminiscent of a female figure, looking again however the male sexual organ leaves no doubt that it is an androgynous being we are dealing with. Bruno Walpoth’s figures are solitary; they stand alone, located within a real space without context where they embody otherness, thus becoming the recipients of our suggestive projections existing somewhere between reality and fiction. His figures exist in dialogue with the viewer, examining an approach to social existence that is to be considered within the freedom of art and thus newly comprehensible.
The artistic oeuvre of the sculptor from Gröden in South Tyrol doubtlessly arises from a tradition of working with wood that is closely connected with both the valley and its people, nevertheless Bruno Walpoth achieves new standards in a traditional art form through his sustained dialectical thinking process, which is conveyed by both the manual finishing of the material and the form itself. The balance, generated from a focused calm and a gentle tension, is the astounding secret of Bruno Walpoth’s tranquil figures. The sculptor’s protagonists are never obtrusive, they hint, they subtly suggest, do not demand and are modest, they gain their effect through silence and strength, beauty and sublimity, melancholy and desire, tradition and creation.