From time to time we all need to experience something that connects us to the raw essence of life. Throughout art history the female nude has been a quintessential subject for artists and sculptors. As artists re-imagine the subject of the Nude, it is comforting to know that right here in Australia there is an artist who is able to combine emotion, humour and elegance to tap into our secret desires.
My recent visit to Zygmunt Libucha’s studio reminded me of the primal desire to create art – something that puts meaning and beauty into life. I always believed that if an artwork made me feel something, then it has done its job. After all, emotional connection is the strongest and most basic connection we take away with us.
In his work, Zygmunt draws on the sense of touch, ultimately connecting us with his work on a very instinctive level. By exploring so strongly the texture, line and surface in his works, he ultimately draws upon the physicality of our raw emotions. His sculptures are truly three-dimensional: if you live with one, its best place is somewhere where all aspects of it will be seen. (My work by Zygmut Libucha lives on my piano.)
“The Forbidden Fruit” is an exhibition review written as a contribution to a publication by NODE Centre (Berlin). The collection ‘Fiction, Non-Fiction: Storytelling in Art Criticism’, edited by An Paenhuysen, is available here.
“Are you touching?”
I was startled. When everyone tells you to never touch art, this question only has one answer.
“Trying to resist the urge,” I replied. I was raised to never tell lies.
“You must touch,” Zygmunt Libucha was standing right behind me. His warm eyes twinkled. “My work is made to be touched.”
I reached out my hand and ran it over the thigh of the bronze woman reclining playfully in front of me. The bronze felt cool at first. But the longer I allowed my connection with her enticing skin, the warmer it felt. He was right, she was meant to be touched.
“She is beautiful.” It is strange how unexpected emotions cannot be put into words. Then the most intelligent thing you can come up with is the most banal one.
Zygmunt’s enthusiastic smile filled my hand with the courage to feel more. Or was it the glass of wine? Who knows? But I felt like I could really experience the nakedness in front of me. My fingers landed on her thigh again, tracing her smooth, glistening skin down to her knee. The shine of her legs —lustrous, luminous— made it hard to pull away. Back towards the thigh, over the luscious curve of her hip. This woman was unapologetically expanding with an exuberant lust for life.
The intricate details of her face flirted with me as her lips parted in a smile. Open. Honest. Naked.
Was it this Polish artist’s charisma that shone through the shapes on display? This was Rodin with a sense of humour. From Soviet Poland to sunny Australia, from silversmith to sculptor. There was a real thirst for beauty here. The quirky names of the works seemed like a reflection of his flirty personality. Slim Neighbour, Tight Dress, Good Neighbour, Afternoon Nap, The Morning After…
“Was it really a good neighbour?” I could not resist.
“Ahhh…” It was a magical non-word. It translates freely into all languages and can hold entire histories of multiple meanings. Was there a story behind every object? Probably.
As I made my way through the pieces, Zygmunt revealed his own struggles about the work,“This one was hard. I started it, and then had to leave it…”
“I didn’t like the hand here…”
Starting my second round through the exhibition I declined the second glass of wine. I amused myself by watching visitors stare in shock as I explored the changing textures of the abstract pieces with my fingers. The granules of the stone tickled the palm of my hand; then the polished surface reassured it again with squeaky smoothness. The exhilaration of this tactile experience took me back to St Petersburg: I recalled standing overpowered by a statue of Voltaire in the Hermitage Museum —fighting the desire to touch the marble fingers of his hand casually draped over the rest of his armchair. After what felt like an hour of magnetic attraction to the marble figure, I gave in and felt the rush of tasting the forbidden fruit. Perhaps this ‘fruit’ handed to me on a silver platter by Zygmunt himself was what prompted me to buy this art. I just had to have that thigh.
To really experience Zygmunt Lubucha’s work, it’s best to do so live. Whether you’re looking for a piece for your living room, or just want to experience this beautiful sculpture for yourself, you can see many more works at Zygmunt’s studio showroom:
- Pure Art Sculpture, 61 Waterworks Rd, Red Hill QLD 4059
Zygmunt’s work is available at galleries throughout Australia. To see more of his works and the current catalogues, you can visit his website.