We were privileged to have internationally-acclaimed painter and sculptor, Andrew Benyei, join us as our featured guest at our April 4 Art Jam.
In a delightful and informative talk about the joys and challenges of working in three dimensions, Andrew explained a number of sculptural approaches. An engineer by training, he became intrigued by subtractive (carved) forms in his twenties,but later started working in clay . Many of his works are three-dimensional portrait commissions, executed in clay and painted, or rendered in bronze. They range from small busts to large sculptures several feet across.
A major challenge is to get the sculpture to look like the person and bring out that personality. Andrew regaled us with the story of the executive who felt that his bust’s nose was too big. When he reduced the nose, the client complained that the bust no longer looked like him! Andrew also mentioned the challenge of working entirely from photographs provided by clients.
“My best tools are my hands and fingers”. Empathy and playfulness are also his strong suit, we would add.
We were amazed by his balletic bronze sculptures, such as “Leap of Faith” in which acrobatic figures seem to float in space, anchored by a single point at the base with a seemingly impossible centre of gravity. Andrew starts with an armature and builds the sculpture in clay. He then takes a mold of the clay sculpture. He pours hot wax into the mold to create the same sculpture but now in wax. The wax goes to a foundry where a ceramic shell is built around the wax. It is heated and the wax is melted out leaving a space (lost wax technique). Molten bronze is poured into this space, the ceramic shell is broken and out comes the bronze sculpture which is the sand blasted, welded together, patinated (coloured) and mounted on a base.
The creation of a typical bust in clay might take 8 hours to complete. Mary Perdue kindly volunteered to be the subject of a 25 minute demonstration which left us speechless in its realistic portrayal in such a short time.
Many thanks go to Joan Dubros for convening this wonderful evening.
Andrew will be offering a six-week gesture sculpture workshop this fall at LucSculpture (Danforth and Greenwood). Details here: LucSculpture
Enjoy his works and thoughts including “Leap of Faith” at www.benyei.com/site