The sculpture The Space Between is seen at Flamingo Đại Lải Resort. — Photo courtesy of the artist
For French sculptor Ariel Moscovici, joining local and international artists at the Art in the Forest (AIF) project in the northern province of Vĩnh Phúc was a unique experience.
Initiated by artist Vũ Hồng Nguyên and Flamingo Group in 2015, the project aims to create an art space and connect international artists. The participants stay at the Flamingo Đại Lải Resort in Vĩnh Phúc Province for several months to create.
The AIF 2019 gathered Moscovici and artists from Việt Nam, the US, Canada, Spain, Japan and South Korea for a residential art programme from July to October.
During his first time at the gathering, Moscovici made the sculpture The Space Between, made of stainless steel and internal red lights.
Nguyên contacted Moscovici and asked him to participate in the project, an invitation he happily accepted.
Firstly, Moscovici proposed making his sculpture about 150 x 300 x 300cm but Nguyên told him to make it three times bigger. The request motivated Moscovici a lot, even though he has exhibited big sculptures at outdoor spaces across the world.
“I was scared because it was impossible to make such a big work in such a short time, however Nguyên told me not to worry because I will have a lot of help and indeed I had a wonderful team of workers helping me with an incredible courage and gentleness,” said Moscovici.
Eventually, the sculpture at a scale of 440 x 900 x 900cm was born.
Moscovici said the artwork is related to nature and is research about the origins of life, the moment before everything started, one of his most important subjects.
“I was attracted by the story of the creation in the Old Testament, it seems childish and yet mysterious, it starts with the word ‘in the beginning’ but in Hebrew it is ‘bereshit’ which means ‘in head’, the world was created abstractly in the head of God before the real material creation,” he said.
“I tried to imagine the architecture of this inner space in which all the promises for the future creation were contained, a primordial round form emerging from earth, made by a multitude of cubic elements, each representing the hazard of eventual plants and animals to come, like a seed or an egg.”
The external shape is cut by five lines joined in the centre and visitors can walk to the middle and choose a way out. All the passages seems the same but our choice brings us to another place, he said.
In the centre of the artwork, there is a red light like a warm heart protected by a colder stainless steel envelope reflecting the light and colours of nature.
“I hope my sculpture may give the feeling of energy and hope for a better future, the idea that everything is still possible,” he said.
A land of dreams
Moscovici was in born 1956 in Bucharest, Romania. Now France-based, his work has been the subject of exhibits and installations in Spain, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, South Korea and Japan.
Working in Việt Nam was like a dream come true, he said, adding that there were no obstacles in terms of time to work or price of materials, allowing Moscovici do do exactly what he wanted thanks to the support from the organiser, fellow artists and co-workers.
“Before coming to the symposium I didn't have much knowledge about contemporary art scene in Việt Nam. Through the AIF project, I found an incredible group of artists with a great purity and energy,” said Moscovici.
Now Moscovici has many Vietnamese friends who are artists with passion, something he didn't think would be possible without speaking the language.
“The first one I met is Nguyên who made me surprised by his beautiful coloured paintings. Then I became close with sculptors Đàm Đăng Lại and Lê Lạng Lương. I also admire other painters of the project, Công Kim Hoa, Lý Trực Sơn and Lê Thừa Tiến.
“Their works are done in a traditional way using the lacquer paint but with a new spirit, it gave me a new image and way of expression, a continuity between past and future,” he said.
During the project, he was impressed by art exhibitions in containers. He said it was a contemporary art space with inner light and transparency that no other technique can achieve.
Moscovici came to Việt Nam about five years ago as a tourist and visited museums of HCM City and Hà Nội. He was impressed by old sculptures in wood and bronze.
“Truly I feel I need to learn more about Vietnamese culture,” he said.
Moscovici said he was inspired a lot by the landscapes and the nature at Đại Lải Lake, where he was free to think only about art.
French sculptor Ariel Moscovici works on his sculpture in the frame work of the the Art in the Forest project.
“In Đại Lải, my mind was refreshed from the daily problems of life and it gave a nice opportunity to make drawings in the nature and think a lot, I am sure there will be some new forms in my work to come,” he said.
“I also came to the most well-known places like Hạ Long Bay, Hội An Town and Đà Lạt City, however one of the best souvenirs is from the old ruins of Mỹ Sơn Sanctuary in Quảng Nam Province, the buildings there reminded me of some of my sculptures. I think that I was quite influenced by the relics in my works after.”
Moscovici has a strong connection to Việt Nam as his wife, artist Sylvie Rivillon, has Vietnamese origins. The couple intend to return Việt Nam together in the near future and stay longer to visit and explore more. — VNS