Thursday Salute to Originals: Giving Voice to Wood
Do you know anyone you would describe as “hard-headed”? Stubborn, uncompromising, inflexible, and categorical, this person approaches situations with such a strong will that their personality leaves a lasting impression. The surfaces we work with often display those same qualities – with deep roots in natural formations, onyx and wood don’t always easily give way to the mechanical methods shaping their raw characteristics into finished materials.
Artist Bruno Walpoth has won the battle with wood. Quite literally, he creates figures with hard (wooden) heads. Skillfully carving his sculptures of the human physique, Walpoth manipulates wood with a deep reverence for craftsmanship that allows his pieces to evoke melancholic emotion.
Walpoth’s work has an air of simplicity, where the work as a whole is treated with subtle curves bearing the rough marks of tools. The intended emotion is carried by specific features (usually eyes or mouths) that receive extra attention in the carving process, becoming the focus of interpretation.
“My subjects are people because I am interested in the human in all aspects. For my characters, it is not just physical aesthetics, but rather expression. When standing before the works, one should have an impression the characters have a soul. This is what I want to achieve”, says Walpoth.
In the artistic process, yielding to the force of a material can sometimes be the most deliberate (and challenging) form of expression. But in recognizing and appreciating those “stubborn” characteristics, the true beauty and potential of a material is often realized, softening our perception of the medium. And for that, we salute Bruno Walpoth for manipulating a basic material (albeit a tough one!) into a vessel of expression, an enlivened surface bridging the gap between hard and soft.