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Interview with Master Beranek 1

Updated: Jun 21, 2020

Interview with Master Beranek

When did you start your interest in sculpture?

At the age of fifteen, I attended a sculpture studio in an art high school. I was lucky as the studio at that time was headed by a brilliant sculptor who was also a powerful, inspiring personality. Back then we didn’t appreciate why he always insisted on precision when searching for proportions. He wanted us to become careful observers and put a strong emphasis on that. For example, I can recall him in my third year having us make a model of the school front door handle just from memory. For three long years we had been touching, clutching the handle several times a day and yet, suddenly - and there were nine of us in the studio - nobody knew what it looked like! We were terribly ashamed. The professor had a silent smile on his face as we humbly set out on a reconnaissance mission towards the front door. He was responsible for installing the craft of sculpture into us, starting with the very basics. We were all eager to go ahead with ‘doing’ art but he taught us to think first. He took young, uncut stones to cultivate and began drilling into them, believing there might be an exceedingly beautiful sculpture still hidden inside. That was my first meaningful encounter with sculpture.

Have you always wanted to become a sculptor?

We all start out walking down an unclear path in life. The fortunate ones will one day reach the point when their passion and destiny becomes their profession.

What was your first glass sculpture?

The very first sculpture I designed using mold-melted glass technology was a two-piece ‘lying head’. Its outer shape was supplemented by cut surfaces, visible in the through-view. At that time I was a university student at the glass studio headed by Professor Stanislav Libensky. We gained invaluable experience in that workshop, which was producing largely his own pieces. After work we had a chance to model our own designs. Every time I remember Professor Libensky, I am embraced by a feeling of happiness. We loved him as he was a free-spirited person and that was contagious. He showed how to see the world with different eyes.

How did Aqua One come into being?

Firstly, I have to confess that I am not a great fan of explaining the creator ́s original idea for a particular sculpture. Of all the great sculptures throughout history, I like those that have managed to keep at least a little secret! I move freely in abstract space, reluctant to direct the viewer too much thus denying them the use of their own fantasy. Statues are like living things and if they are not communicative, if they do not tell stories, but on the contrary are elementary, do not expect simple answers to the fundamental question: “What is it?” Statues tell stories, however they do so in a language you do not need to take the trouble to learn. All you have to do is to be open-minded and let the image before you sink in. The reflection of your own emotion from viewing the statue, the thoughts, sensibility and fantasy, will create a completely new inner perception. It is our capability to interpret the outside world in our own unique manner. Because Aqua One has a special place amongst my works, I will give you a more detailed look into the thinking which led to its creation. The Aqua One sculpture tells a story of the phenomenon of the ever-present condition of balance, in society or in general. The precondition of achieving such a delicate result is that circumstances or forces, sometimes even contradictory, interact in precise quantities; absolute harmony, if you like. Technically speaking, tight-rope walking represents a very good example of this; the walker and the rope are in symbiosis. Socially speaking and to simplify things, one can imagine for example, a round table or sitting in a circle around a fire with each place on the circumference having equal social value.; counterbalancing works perfectly here. There are many similar examples and the principle idea of harmony provokes and challenges itself to be expressed in a concrete way. Very often I work with elementary shapes especially a sphere, even an imaginary one. The principle of equality of all points on its surface towards the center works the same as in the circle and additionally it does so in the third dimension, in the space. Each point on the surface of the sphere has the same value as its distance from the center. That makes the sphere an absolute shape. From the sculptor ́s point of view, it is actually quite boring; it looks the same from all viewpoints, yet at the same time, is also absolutely perfect. So it fits perfectly as the basis for the expression of balanced harmony. Life, nonetheless, is not that straightforward and simple. It fights for balance; up and down, sideways, like on a rollercoaster. It is travelling along a cyclic trajectory. The Aqua One trajectory leads along the surface of the sphere, is slightly arched, with the same width all the way winding down through the curves of four circles, only to return to the starting point. It is a safe passage, only the slanting slopes fall dangerously down into the sphere inner center-point. The inner globular core has been removed leaving behind gloomy emptiness. You do not want to fall down there! It was this process of thinking about harmonic balance that produced a complex symmetrical shape. Ultimately, it is in balance by nature; four identical parts united in a unique whole. There is a line leading centrally along the surface of the object; the object can stand at any point on this line and it will not fall, it is in the center of gravity, in harmony. Harmony is present all over this line and the fact that it is not possible in just a single position gives us hope and optimism. It is a dreamer ́s message of life; that harmony can be achieved under diverse circumstance.

And Orange One?

Orange One embraces and protects its personal space - its secret - from the outside. Put your head inside and you will hear it!

Tell us why Orange One is so very orange when actually it should have been yellow?

True, Orange One should have originally been yellow. Guessing from a smaller glass sample as to how exactly the intensity of color will change in a large bulk of glass is difficult and unreliable. Naturally, you assume that as the light goes through a thicker mass of glass, the color will intensify and get darker. In Orange One this happened yet it was still a surprise that the coloration changed so dramatically, from yellow to orange. You think everything is under control until you encounter such a phenomenon. It is indeed exciting!

How did the enormous 280 kg Venus come into existence? And how did it feel when you opened the furnace and found it was not cracked?

It is hugely satisfying when you manage to melt a piece with flawless results. This was even more so the case with the Venus as we surpassed the previous weight limit for a single piece. Although heavier simple glass pieces exist, with regards to its complex space arrangement, we clearly achieved a unique melt with Venus. It is with great joy that you watch as you manage to correctly melt such a complicated shape in such a size!

What is the story of the Ballet-dancer?

The Ballet-dancer passionately dances around and around in a whirlwind, with her tiptoes hardly touching the ground. It is a specter that will disappear. Only the movement remains.

Lately you have been using wood and bronze in addition to glass. What made you start to use these materials?

I have actually been working with wood for a long time; initially, for the manufacture of models and later, as a traditional and noble sculpting material. Bronze is always tempting as it is the classic material of sculptors. I regard wood, along with stone, to be the archetypal material legacy of our ancestors. It is encouraging to know how strong our relationship with the traditional materials still is.

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