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Vladimír Škoda in the upper echelons
vladimir-skoda-dans-les-hautes-spheres - ARTACTIF
March 2024 | Reading time: 19 Min | 0 Comment(s)

About the internationally renowned sculptor who has been living in Auvergne for around twenty years.

I had the immense pleasure of meeting Vladimír Škoda on the occasion of an exhibition of which he had agreed to be the curator at La Lune en Parachute, the contemporary art space in Epinal, in the Vosges, where he had invited five of his former students to mix their work with his. This great master of the cosmos admitted to me, with a mischievous smile, that he had not been indifferent to the name of the place that had requested him... It was in 2017 and I didn't quite appreciate the luck that made me was given. I even had to insist to my superiors to justify my trip! The artist had been adorable, and we had chatted like two old friends. It was incredible and exciting. While writing my article at the time, I was (even more than usual) terribly frustrated by the framework imposed by the newspaper, drastically limiting the lineage: this great gentleman (in every sense of the word) was already 75 years and a life worthy of a novel! Today the sculptor is 81 years old, and journalist Elisabeth Couturier was able to deploy his studio visit over six pages in the January issue of Connaissance des arts magazine. Joy !

“We think we know her work, without having an exact idea of the place it occupies in the new art landscape,” writes the journalist in the preamble, before spinning out the cosmic metaphor. “From Vladimír Škoda, we remember the sculptures composed of spheres of different dimensions. But like the race of the planets around the sun, his work is part of a perpetual movement. The artist never stops making revolutions. Our visit to his workshop near Thiers, in the Massif Central, confirms his pleasure in experimenting. » The French artist of Czech origin, born in Prague on November 22, 1942 and arrived in France aged 26, received the magazine team in the former cutlery of five thousand square meters that he has occupied for around twenty of years. It is not surprising that the sculptor using iron and steel was attracted like a magnet by this region which still produces 80% of French knives and where the know-how continues.

Drawing his inspiration and creative energy from observing the clouds, trusting in his lucky star, Vladimír Škoda is a balanced man: his head in the stars and his feet in the forge. The vast industrial wasteland near Thiers serves as both a laboratory and a warehouse: “Here I can store pieces from all periods and inquire about the knowledge of the specialized workers who work in the nearby factories. For example, they know how to insert gold and silver wires into metal,” explains the sculptor with the beautiful white beard, whose research had been noticed in Thiers. He was invited there in 1985 to participate in the Metal Sculpture Symposium, and this is how he found his workshop there a few years later.

Auvergne is very proud to host such an internationally renowned artist. His works of art have just been sown everywhere as part of the Czech Season and the candidacy of the City of Clermont-Ferrand for the title of European Capital of Culture 2028. The Clermont-Ferrand Massif central association 2028 indeed offered from October 13, 2023 to January 13, 2024 the exhibition “Constellations” by Vladimír Škoda in 9 sites with several exhibition sections.

This retrospective presented 50 years of the artist's creation. As we have seen, Vladimír Škoda therefore developed a major sculptural work made essentially in metal, the molten material of which he explored using blacksmithing processes and affirmed an interest in the geometry of forms, particularly the sphere. Developed in close collaboration with the Creux de l'Enfer contemporary art center, the Claire Gastaud art gallery which manages works of art for sale from Skoda, the City of Clermont-Ferrand, the Department of Puy-de -Dôme, the DRAC Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and the City of Thiers, this traveling exhibition around the work of Vladimír Škoda, linked the Czech Republic, where he was born, Thiers, place of creation of most of his works, and Clermont-Ferrand.

Around them, in the sculptor's workshop, the journalist Elisabeth Couturier and the photographer Sébastien Vincent discover "emblematic pieces, starting with the compact forms of his beginnings, more or less square, remarkable for the archaic power that they emerge and, against a wall, the first metal spheres flattened with a sledgehammer. And then balls now machined: small, medium or large, rough or smooth, shiny or matte, transparent or opaque, some being assembled, others already packaged. They will join major international collections. » With his appearance of a wise old man and his imposing physique, Vladimír Škoda exudes such lively strength, his eye always on the watch, that time seems to have no influence on him.

Vladimír Škoda et Valibri en Roulotte

“I have always been fascinated by the profession of blacksmith,” recalls César’s former student. “My uncle was a farrier. Around 6-7 years old I was already handling the hammer and the anvil (symbol of Thiers, that said by the way!). I was left-handed, it was impossible for me to draw with my right hand as was imposed on me. But no one bothered me at the forge. So I became a turner-miller, and I went back to drawing after the age of 18. » He whose impressive installations, which he likes to call "constellations", really have nothing to envy of those of the current stars of environmental art on the contemporary art market, is the author of interventions striking. Let us cite for example those which offered this magical sensation, both physical and spiritual, of sailing in intergalactic space at the Rudolfinum art gallery in Prague in 1995, at the Rocca Albornoziana in Spoleto in Italy in 2006, at the Carré Saint -Anne in Montpellier in 2011, or in the courtyard of the Fleury hotel at the Lodève museum in 2013.

Think about it during a visit to Nantes, where its immense backlit red ball is on display in front of the Institute of Engineering Sciences in Thermal-Energetics and Materials; in Champigny-sur-Marne, in front of its series of matte and shiny half-spheres on the square in front of the Departmental Educational Documentation Center, or in Ivry-sur-Seine, in front of its stainless steel ellipses for the Media Library esplanade: Vladimír Škoda's planets are really well aligned.

Valibri en RoulotteArticle written by Valibri in Roulotte

Illustration: Vladimír Škoda and Valibri in a Caravan

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