Gauthier Lesturgie & Lauriane Vatin // Sculptures made of earth, water, fire, air VI.

Sculptures made of earth, water, fire, air (pp. 103-106)

The gallery space contains objects, translated versions of the artist's inner and outside actions. Here, artworks are intended to be symbolic evocations, limited vehicles for broader source-experiences held elsewhere, in what we called and distinguished as “Nature”.

These initials acts seem to be driven by the feeling of belonging to a whole – an oceanic feeling - . This temporal, physical and poetic unity creates invisible correspondences that lead the artist to communication, both as receiver and transmitter.

Another kind of need to communicate, to pass on, pushes Nuno Vicente to translate his intimate thoughts into matter. Translation is an interpretation, a transposition of a source language or object into a new format that can be understood by  understandable for a group unable to assimilate the original version. Through different objects of analysis, translation is also a way to express something through a medium, for example the expression of feeling through writing.

Within this process, the exhibition space is crossed by new boundaries. The relation between inside and outside is constantly based on a fragile balance. Even if most of the time, activation of the artwork happens outside the space, the gallery doesn’t lead to the ending point of the action, or the end of the object. Thinking about the famous consideration of Robert Smithson about the dialectic between site and non-site, Nuno’s Vicente’s work takes place in extended space and time. If, in art history this geographical displacement  have provoked a need of evidence, Nuno Vicente’s pieces are not part of this tradition. The artist’s artworks are built up from diary impressions or matter transformation. In this way, development is never ending and the artwork cannot be considered as a finished medium. Art is, here, like a perpetual quest of communication and harmony through transformation.

What was intimate turns public, outside moves inside, intangible becomes material, literal is vanished behind symbolic.

The translated versions embodied in displayed pieces work as symbolic surrogates inevitably limited, as a digested after-taste of Nuno Vicente’s  primary outdoor impressions.

Here, there is a displacement leading to a certain loss of the primary feelings experimented by the artist. Indeed, to try to get the  identical experience with the translated version than  the original one is, in any realms, an impossible and even absurd quest.

Transformation of matter highlights the evocation of presence and absence. The language for example, is here to capture time through feelings and say what is gone. Artworks are made of a matter that constantly travels from inner body to outside nature. Therefore, the conversion of the experience into the object raises some new data but also remove others. Through this gesture, Nuno’s Vicente’s works contain the tone of the monument, by the melancholia of silence, time or vanishing matters.

The question then, is fundamentally to distinguish, as Jenney recommends, “art and work of art. The work of art is only a statement that will last a certain amount of time”, time-bound but “sitelessness”,

Nuno's works of art paradoxically attempt to confine infinite perceptions, to reach into outside processes, works as a relay or diminished version of broader experiences.

Regarding this process-based approach, Nuno Vicente''’s development can be seen as analogous to a traditional sculpture conception which share the monument logic of commemorative representation in the sense that the creation of physical objects come from the need to shape, signify and to convey plural, complex and inner feelings through symbols – as concrete representations of abstract concepts - or as the symbolic referent of references (thoughts).  From the infinite screen of a marble block to the definite features of the statue.

Nuno Vicente’s object-sculptures are exploited to generate a state of conditions and then invoke extended procedures.

Extending the analogy with translation, the language structure forces us to go through a first translation layer, which bring us from thoughts  to written language which can be comparable to translation within matter.

Henri David Thoreau’s words can be invoked to illustrate this relation : “There is a memorable interval between the spoken and the written language, the language heard and the language read. The one is commonly transitory, a sound, a tongue, a dialect […] The other is the maturity and experience of that.”

The artist's outside feelings, thoughts and actions are cogitate, put into words, written down, read, taped, filmed, drawn, pictured, sculpted, broadcasted and then passed on. 

Like the reader assimilates and reconstructs an author's experiences, adding his own through the reading process, here the viewer is the medium / media which turns objects once more  into immaterial flux. The viewer is the only link in the chain who can create the proper connections to unearth from the finite, the complete meanings of infinitude.


1   “The site is a place where a piece should be but isn't. The piece that should be there is now somewhere else, usually in a room. Actually everything that is of any importance takes place outside the room. But the room reminds us of the limitations of our condition.” Robert Smithson, “Dicussion with Heizer, Oppenheim, Smithson”, 1970, in Robert Smithson : The Collected Writings, edited by Jack Flam, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1996.

2   Neil Jenney, “Earth : Symposium at White Museum, Cornell University”, 1969.

3   Henri David Thoreau, Walden; or, Life in the Woods (1854), Dover Thrift Editions, New York, 1995, p. 66.

Gauthier Lesturgie & Lauriane Vatin



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