INTERVIEW WITH BRUNO WALPOTH, SCULPTOR, ITALY
Ortisei, in the Dolomites, Italy ~
Deanna Phoenix Selene: Bruno, we know that nudes are not exactly new to the art world. There is, nevertheless, something unnerving about the vulnerability of your all-too-humanlike wood figures. The feeling that we have walked in on a private reverie. What would you like us to know about your pieces? What feelings do you wish to evoke?
Bruno Walpoth: For me it is important that the viewer’s gaze does not stop at the surface of my sculptures but goes beyond the outward realism to capture the inner life of the work.
Bruno Walpoth: I know that for many, my pieces evoke a feeling of loneliness and longing, perhaps even creating some concern. But my sculptures do not tell stories. Nor am I even attempting to transmit messages.
Bruno Walpoth: Perhaps I guard those intimate emotions that arise in my mind.
Deanna Phoenix Selene: I think the pieces that stop your viewers most are the ones depicting a specific young boy. How can we get past our discomfort with seeing children ~ boys especially ~ as the subjects of art?
Bruno Walpoth: The discomfort, perhaps, is born from the mirror of our feelings, our stories and experiences.
Deanna Phoenix Selene: This piece here, the bust of the dark-haired woman, I find especially striking. I want to know more about her. Is there a story behind her? Who or what was your inspiration for this particular work?
Bruno Walpoth: There is a story behind this, yes. It’s my neighbor whom I find particularly beautiful, and when I approached her to pose for me, she told me she would be honored. It is particularly suited for what I try to communicate with my work. I have already made a second sculpture with her, and maybe I’ll make a third.
Deanna Phoenix Selene: Do you ever become so attached to the pieces as you work on them that it is difficult to admit you are finished and it is time to put down your tools and pull your hands back? Has it ever pained you to sell one of your pieces?
Bruno Walpoth: While working on a piece, there are times I become so involved that I would prefer not to stop. Respect for the model, however, forces me to take breaks.
Bruno Walpoth: Yes, there are works which are closer to me than others. But if they end up in “good hands,” I have less difficulty tearing myself away from them.
Deanna Phoenix Selene: What is it about this particular art-form that calls to you more than any other? Your most satisfying moment?
Bruno Walpoth: The observation of the “real” has always fascinated me. And the wood for me, it fits more than any other material for its ability to convey my emotions.The final step in the realization of a work is the one that fascinates me the most and with which I most deeply connect.
Deanna Phoenix Selene: Are you a tactile person as you go through your ordinary day? Do you find yourself laying your hands on whatever captures your attention? Do you have an urge to trace the shape of pretty or curious things you encounter?
Bruno Walpoth: I don’t even have to touch. I can simply look at beautiful things.
Deanna Phoenix Selene: With faces especially, do you find yourself noticing the subtle nuances of emotion in the people you pass by on the street?
Bruno Walpoth: I will do this, yes. I am continually looking for new models and often meet them on the street. But…I do not always have the courage to ask them if they would like to pose for me.
Deanna Phoenix Selene: How would you describe your childhood? As a boy did you prefer to quietly observe from a distance?
Bruno Walpoth: As a child, but especially in adolescence, I always liked to spend time in solitude looking for the silence in nature. Today, those moments perhaps can be found in my creations.
Bruno Walpoth: I’ve always been very curious, but I do not feel particularly creative, unfortunately!
Deanna Phoenix Selene: In your opinion, what quality makes a great artist?
Bruno Walpoth: I think it varies, depending upon on the period in history. There have always been different qualities that define an artist as a great artist. Always, however, it takes tenacity and work. Much, much, much work!
Deanna Phoenix Selene: Best words of advice you’ve ever received?
Bruno Walpoth: When you have doubts, find self-acceptance, and keep going.
~ Translation provided by Sabrino Sollazzo, Milan, Italy
Bruno Walpoth was born in Bressanone, Italy, and went to school in Ortisei, where he now makes his home in a 350-year-old house he renovated which formerly belonged to his parents. Walpoth’s next show starts this week at the Contemporary-Art-Ruhr fair in Essen, Germany.
For more information, please visit his website here.