Saturday, December 16, 2006

Tibor Borbas

I have found another soul-brother !

(look at how he works the space -- instead of the anatomy - but how it still feels like a body)

Tibor Borbas -- a student of Jozsef Somogyi who was in that earlier generation of Hungarian sculptors that I recently found for my website.

And what a tragic story -- killed in a car crash in 1995 at the age of 53.

He did a variety of things -- but what I like most are his bodies of young women

... and his portraits of old men.

What a loss to the world of contemporary figure sculpture !

And can't you just tell that he's Hungarian ?

Each of these small, Middle-European countries has it's own special way of feeling sensuality and character.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not share your enthusiasm for his depiction of women - these feel voyeuristic and I feel they are simply more objects catering to the male gaze. But that is me; I'm glad you are excited.

I do admire the work you've been doing on your online web museum. That is extensive documentation! I wish I'd realized it existed sooner - I enjoyed scrolling through the pages and stopping here and there to study a bust or figure.

I also noticed that you have made an Ariadne. Can you tell me about your decision to bind her hands together?

December 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah. I am discovering that you are as prolific in clay as you are in words. There is an early portrait bust of yours that I am interested in, but I do not know if she is available.

Please let me know if you ever want to do an exchange: I will give you one of my heads for one of yours...

What are you using to treat your surfaces? Are these fired pieces?

December 17, 2006  
Blogger Robert said...

It is sad to lose someone so talented so young: so often the way.

I agree about "the space". The first "pose" is unusual to say the least, the sort of tangle children get into without thinking, but it makes a fascinating form. If simplified and in 2d it becomes a written symbol. I wonder how aesthetically good it is from different angles? I will do a maquette of it to see.

The second is also a fascinating form in a more sensual way without being erotic. (The view of the bottom being more popular than the other side I suppose.) Again he uses contrasting surfaces in the different forms to great advantage and brave enough to try colour quite dynamically. I am not so enamoured by the third girl.

His portraits of old men are very believable and simple. I think rather faultless in a fresh and captivating style.

It may not be ground breaking stuff in the normal sense but never-the-less achieved very desirable objects worthy of much attention. Do we have any idea of the size if these works?

December 17, 2006  
Blogger chris miller said...

I agree (with Amanda) that these pieces feel voyeuristic and "cater to the male gaze" -- but then -- being male -- I enjoy being catered to. !

Thinking back on the history of sculpture - doesn't that catering mostly begin in 18th C. France -- and then really dominate the 19th ?

As Camille Paglia would remind us -- before then -- the eye-full nude was male. So it was still a male gaze -- but a male gaze for attractive young males.

Now that -- for the past 150 years --we're beginning to have accomplished female sculptors -- we finally have examples of the female gaze -- which so far -- at least as I quickly recall -- prefers the female nude to the male.

Whether that gaze is any less voyeuristic -- I don't know -- how can one tell ?

And I'm also not sure that voyeurism is a bad thing -- even if it seems to be universally condemned by all orthodox religious systems other than perhaps the tantric wing of Hinduism.

(and yes, Amada, I'd love to trade heads with you!)

December 17, 2006  
Blogger chris miller said...

I have no idea of their size, Robert, and I also wonder how some of these pieces appear from other views - and we both know difficult it is to make a piece work all the way around. (which is why Hildebrand wisely advised sculptors to stick to relief)

December 17, 2006  
Blogger chris miller said...

Regarding my Ariadne , I have to confess that there was a bit of confusion in the naming.

I should have called her "Andromeda" -- as the one who was sacrificed to a sea-monster -- but I mistakenly called her "Ariadne" in memory of a woman I once knew in Cincinnati.

Oh memories ! (it's nice to have good ones)

Regarding the patina -- everything in the past two years is cast in forton and painted with a clear varnish mixed with various pigments.

Everything before then was cast in polyester resin and painted with a clear resin mixed with various pigments.

December 17, 2006  
Blogger Robert said...

I have looked up voyeurism in seven different online dictionaries to be sure I understand what it actually means.

I do not think that the artist wanted to communicate to us some sexual gratification from watching these subjects, secretly or otherwise.

The first and third are without sex appeal. The second I agree there could be some debate about voyeurism.

Just as you say Chris, on the subject of women sculptors and painters, so many depict the female form out of preference and without the accusation of voyeurism. It is also an interesting fact that more than 70 percent of the collectors (buyers / commissions) of my female nude figures are women.

With that in mind I will continue to sculpt the female form as so many artists do and have done. What ever their motives may have been, mine are to capture life and the spirit in any medium I can master. I go along with the “foot” versus the “shoe” up to a point but will not go so far as to ban cloths! The debate on the merits of male and female “forms” is a well established, century’s old debate. The problem is the very complex prejudices that all of us have been exposed to through the millennia. We could start with Adam and Eve, real or imaginary. Guilt or hurt will make us worry about this. So you are right to say “…….being male -- I enjoy being catered to. !” but by all accounts you could also say the same if you were female!

December 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But that is me; I'm glad you are excited."

The electronic sphere is a challenging one - we miss so much of body language and tone in communication. I meant no accusation or barb, and I stress this because I was sensing (rightly or wrongly) some defensiveness in some posts.

All 3 of these pieces have obvious sex appeal, in my opinion. That isn't in itself a bad thing. As person, artist, and woman (in that order), I'm just bloody sick of the female form being celebrated primarily for physical form linked directly to sexual attributes in turn linked to an overwhelmingly male gaze and male consumption. It is possible to sculpt a man or woman and capture and honor that which is beyond mere physical allure, and that is what I am interested in doing. I don't see much of that in these pieces, and I don't care for the objectification of people, men or women.

I agree that many women prefer shaping the female body: I do. But the statement that they go without charge of voyeurism is incorrect! I do not know names - but I can find them - of two female photographers who come to mind. They came under fire recently for their use of nude female form in installation. And I myself have met that charge.

Chris: Thank you for the clarification re: Ariadne. I was trying to figure out if she were bound to grief or if you, too, were highlighting that Ariadne was an assertive fertility goddess before patriarchy flip-flopped the story, binding current culture to a sadly evolved concept of Ariadne-as-victim. There is a female composer who has made a body of work on this subject musically, atttempting to relegate A to the ancient status. I used the compositions for my thesis on Ariadne and Dionysus.

December 18, 2006  
Blogger chris miller said...

If figure sculpture offers a personal relationship between the viewer and represented-person being
viewed -- what is that relationship ?

That's a question I like to ask -- and I think that's the reason that most figure sculpture was commissioned in the past: to establish a relationship between a viewer and some divinity -- ancestor -- king etc.

I think all three of the pieces shown above invite us to contemplate/worship a goddess of nubility -- i.e the sexually available female - with the various characteristics that make her
charming and attractive.

#1 and #3 offer a direct one-to-one relationship -- and I admit that this is the kind with which I am the
most comfortable -- and find delight in the great (infinite ?) variety of ways nubility can be attractive.

But the pair of bathers seems different -- the viewer is more of what is often called a voyeur:
he stands apart and gazes at figures who do not seem to be aware of his presence.

So I feel a certain coldness - a certain rudeness about it - and I want there to be more of a
story -- and often there is -- the three that occur me immediately are:

*David viewing Bathsheba
*The Elders viewing Susanna
*Acteon viewing Diana

(noting that in all three cases, murder-catastrophe-punishment eventually ensue.)

But location is also very important - and this invitation to voyeurism would seem more appropriate -- for example, if the statue were placed in some kind of pleasure quarters - like a brothel or singles resort.

December 18, 2006  
Blogger chris miller said...

Isn't figure sculpture the essence of objectification ? --of whatever it is you find attractive or compelling about people -- whether it's the sexiness of youth or sagacity of age ? And don't we, as individuals, get objectified
all the time: as customers, friends, lovers, children, parents. I think I'm objectifying -- and being objectified -- and
resisting objectification -- all through the day -- and it all seems necessary, exciting, and enjoyable to me.

But then -- I've never been a young woman growing up in a society in which the commercialization of
young female sexuality is such a dominant theme-- and I can appreciate those who are sick of it.(though clearly,
not enough to stop enjoying it myself)

December 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First off, I had a feeling that if I used the word "objectification" it would come right back at me. :)


"But then -- I've never been a young woman growing up in a society in which the commercialization of
young female sexuality is such a dominant theme-- and I can appreciate those who are sick of it."


(though clearly,
not enough to stop enjoying it myself)


A double triumph - you've won my respect for consideration as well as honesty.

December 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The bathers are the sort that irritate me. They're defenseless. They're being denied agency. They can be used by another. The others don't feel quite as if they've been denied the ability to meet our gaze. So we begin, in a way, to touch upon the erotic (worship) vs. the pornographic (possession, often against the will, de-humanizing) - the former I have no problem with, the latter I fight.

I need to go dump a stag in that pond as a warning to the viewer.

December 18, 2006  
Blogger Robert said...

Joy in life I do sympathise with your view and see very clearly now what you mean, forgive me for being defensive but I and I expect Chris, get some unfair “flak” on this.

First there is the “terrible problem” (!) of being a human male with all the normal instincts that go with the condition (or should I say object). Second, in the modern world we are faced with the fact that our female fellows spend billions of dollars/ pounds every year on cosmetics, clothes, beauty treatment etc. Most responsible fathers will tolerate their daughter’s bikini on the beach but protest at “hot pants” in the city.

Advertising uses sexual allurement as a prime subject to sell so many products; so you can therefore understand that I don’t like to be tarred with the same brush.

Chris’s mention of goddess in an earlier comment above holds water to a degree.

So much of my work is commissioned unfortunately so I don’t get to do my own thing enough. If I were to do “a bather” (I haven’t planned one) would this automatically be voyeuristic? There are several reasons for skinny dipping but most are very innocent; to wash, swim sunbath. But perhaps you have never been on a deserted beach and suddenly decided to run stitch less into the sea just for the excitement of it? To capture in marble that moment of exhilaration (an emotion) in “the goddess” could be a masterpiece! Just washing your hair in the river is a bit boring, unlikely to be erotic! Running in joyous abandon and leaping into the sea I hope you would not find pornographic!

Chris I think the motives for commissioning works varied in the past enormously because of money, power, and religious belief. But the mixture of artist, subject and medium may have helped to moderate some of it. The works commissioned for decoration in a private house or palace in more decadent times, may be too racy to be acceptable for public viewing at a more puritanical period in history.

It is interesting how the artist’s intentions can be misinterpreted so easily. One very controversial work comes to mind in “The white slave” which I think you know, which was intended to be a protest against prostitution, had it been sculpted by a man I wonder if it would have been exhibited anywhere at the time. There are many paintings too that make us feel uncomfortable, Manet’s picnic for example. I am not acquainted with the history of this work but do we know what Manet intended us to feel? Is this the relationship between subject and viewer you are referring to?

December 19, 2006  
Blogger chris miller said...

Ah -- controversy !

I'm so glad we were able to sail through these treacherous - though well-traveled, waters and make it back to port still friends.

Abstract painting may be the most intellectual of the visual arts -- but figure sculpture remains the most controversial.

December 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A) I understand pressures upon the male sex exist. I do not understand your statements about cosmetics, images, etc. The pressures of society on women to look a certain sexually appealing way kill women every day. Thus, on that matter, I have little empathy for the patriarchy - those who view and derive pleasure from the mental and physical contortions women feel they must force themselves into to meet these impossible standards.

B) I am fond of giving myself to the sea. The point is the viewer or gaze, here. And washing hair you find boring and to be without an erotic charge? Hah! Degas and the millions who found it each his or her own.

C) Alright. I'm done. For now. This could go on and on. Thank you, Chris, for moderating :).

D) I am to have a one-woman show next year, in the Midwest. How pleasant it would be to extend an invite to you both and spend the evening arguing rather than doing the usual rounds of artspeak with the others!

December 20, 2006  
Blogger Robert said...

Thak you for the invitation, I would love to come and meet you both and see your works in the flesh (!), do plese let us have details. I had aimed to make it to America, San Fransisco, in the year 2015 the 100 anniversary of the great Exposition if they will only hold one. If I do well enough with sales who knows I will be over a lot sooner!

December 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the old guys...

The Amanda-Chris-Robert debate makes for good eavesdropping (rather like looking at the bathers, only different!) Another form of "trading heads," I suppose.

To call a spade a spade, I'd say that the sculptures look very suggestive of the masturbatory to this female eye (the first being "post" with the hand loose between the legs, and third being "pre"--the angle of the neck, the hand on breast) and that may make for part of the sense of violation that Amanda feels. Because these are somewhat extravagant (vs. natural) in their fantasies, they do, I think, feel very male. Each puts a viewer in the mode of the Elders viewing Susanna, except that these are not Susanna-figures bathing, but suggestive of something else entirely.

I still want some river sculpture in the Susquehanna, near the crenellated bridge...

I'm afraid I'll have to gawk my way through the rest of the Germans later. I am awash in events and company and such.

Merry Christmas, Chris--

December 20, 2006  
Blogger chris miller said...

Marly -- you're right ! Yes -- of course -- these mocking sprites have been pleasuring themselves -- what a bold assertion of male uselessness !

Though, of course, sick creatures that we are -- men still like to gaze at them (and as I recall from my college days -- it was a very common pose for the Playboy photo essay)

December 20, 2006  

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