A Tribute To Val

I have always maintained that our individual uniqueness and experiences not only define who we are. It too determines that only that one person will ever dream up that particular original concept or creation.

Einstein’s life proves this assertion. His slowness in learning to speak as a child developed his reliance to think in pictures and his curiosity about ordinary things adults take for granted, like space and time. At 16, he mentally pictured what it would be like to ride alongside a light beam.

His cheeky rebelliousness towards authority, so detested by his educators, led him to question conventional wisdom. His inherent giftedness in numbers attuned him to the language nature used to describe her wonders – mathematics, allowing him to visualize its laws in equations.

This exclusive combination ensured only Einstein, and Einstein alone, would come up with the special theory of relativity.

So it is with Val. In April this year, she installed three of her slender sculptures of concrete, bronze and coral underwater in the seabed near Koh Tao island in southern Thailand. This artistic and ecological “Ocean Utopia” project, realized with the help of the New Haven Reef Conservation Program, became more than a first of its kind.

Seeing “the voids in her sculptures (come) to life through the underwater currents… (reinforced) a relation between the (fluid materiality of) the artworks and the surrounding nature, and (plunged them) into a dreamlike world”: “Is this man of bronze who fraternizes with fish and whose faceless appearance is blurred by the (under) currents more or less real than the one who was standing in the open air?”

Matchlessly making coral part of her creation and these musings quantum leapt her to ponder the beguiling possibility of melding her bronze sculptures with and in glass! And opened a floodgate of philosophical imaginings: “Is the image reflected in the mirror or distorted by glass a false one? Or is it simply another level of reality?”

These fresh bemusements compel the Bangkok-based Val into an exceptional collaboration with the world-renowned master glassblowers in Murano, the celebrated small island dotting the lagoon in Venice. That they were willing to break their centuries old tradition of preserving the secret of their craft bears testimony of the ground-breaking impact her fresh ideas would make in both the artistic spheres of casting bronze and blowing glass.

And the remembered light reflections, along with the projected shadows, surrounding her submerged “Ocean Utopia” sculptures in turn inspires her to leave not the play of light, and hence shadows, on the melded bronze with glass to the chance curatorial hang of her seedbed of new artistic revelations. Rather they were to become an inseparable part of her latest finished creations.

This French artist’s current exhibition, “Tenth Eonian Initiative” is, thus, truly an exquisite breathtaking “encounter of glass, light and bronze”.

And through it all, her inherent constancy fluidly graces each new creation: man formidably remains able to question himself in his pursuit of a better means of living out his destiny, as beauty and strength persist as nature’s vital impulse.

Thus the smallness of man and nature’s open infinity continue to interact in space, lines and planes within shapes that relate to each other in Val’s tireless quest for a surround balance and harmony that exceeds his understanding in seamless ways that sublimely encroach on the transient realm of bucolic dreams.

Perhaps these glimpses of trans-global utopia stem from a youth and adolescence shuttling from South America, Africa, Europe and France; making her infinitely more than Valérie Goutard, the name she was given at birth…

Perhaps her first forage into the Murano tradition of glass blowing would propel her to further refine, expand or morph her subsequent visions of merging glass with bronze…

Perhaps an infinity of perhaps… all of which we will never know would ever be realized as Val passed away in late October this year: her precious life suddenly claimed by a motorbike accident in Bangkok.

Like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the jaws of death have snatched her away at the very height of her artistic career.

We can only take heart in what Einstein has shared: “A spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe — a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.”

And pay tribute to Val’s artistic merit by gazing upon what her mission to unite man with his world and nature has ingeniously crystalized before her “Tenth Eonian Initiative” exhibition at Redsea Gallery, Block 9 Dempsey Rd, #01-10 Dempsey Hill, Singapore 247697 ends on 8 January 2017.


Photo credit: Roland Neveu

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