The ornament torn from its original support becomes the very structure of my sculptures…(Alain Bellino)
Alain Bellino’s sculpture Long Live the King
From antique bronze ornaments, French sculptor Alain Bellino creates intricately reimagined sculptures, ancient metal forms made modern. Bronze holds a certain gravity for the artist, allowing a combination archaism and contemporaneity, what the artist describes as “a nobility of the material allowing fragmented memory and a sense of formal restraint.”
This all began in the atelier of his father who was a restorer specializing in bronze and silver. The young man learned the techniques of gilding, intricate repairs, and patina and studied the history of art and objects. Today, the artist uses goldsmith techniques to assemble beautiful objects that seem to be many things….neo-renaissance, baroque, surrealist, fantastic and even steam punk.
Alain Bellino, a work in progress
Alain describes his process as “an iconoclastic re-assembling paired with a highly rigorous technical and precise process of welding bronze, and in this work I see the crossroads between past and future, and a rehabilitation of ornamentation.”
In fact, Alain’s practice is in part, a contemporary metonymy on the metalwork of the French renaissance. This vocabulary of extravagance and classicism is particularly clear in the metalwork Bucrane, a lavishly embellished totemic animal skull made in the pictorial language of the Greco-Romans.
Made of antique bronze ornaments, silvered, gilded, and patinated works like Vanité respond to the concept of vanitas and to the tradition of historic allegorical sculpture and yet, Alain resists revealing a precise iconography, preferring the viewer examine and find meaning, and in some ways for his portentous work to return us to the grim reminders of traditional memento mori.
Alain in many ways kept his creative heart secret….
Alain in many ways kept his creative heart secret, applying his skills and gifts to the restoration business, and it was only in 2008 when the financial crisis befell the world, that he had time to devote himself to exclusively artistic work. The release from the rule bound field of restoration was liberating for Alain, he could implement the same tools and techniques used in restoration. This way of working “gave a novelty to objects as I reassembled part and pieces to make sculptures, giving them a new life.”
Memento mori is the genre of allegorical sculpture common in 16th and 17th century Europe (Todlein, or Little Death). Bellino’s work was inspired by the 1632 sculpture Tödlein als memento mori by Christoph Angermair at the Dresden Museum. Inscribed with the Latin phrase “remember you must die” this cautionary tale of a sculpture is made of antique bronze ornaments with silvering and patina.
Crossing the Desert
Assembled of antique bronze ornaments with gilding, Sunbath is an interpretation of a motif often see in metalwork of the Sun King of France, Louis XIV. Like much of Alain’s work, this piece combines motifs seen in gilt bronzes of this French period including the classical, exotic, grotesque, and the allegorical. In the past, making of such objects was an intense, delicate and highly technical process, and decorative bronzes played an essential role in the decorative beauty of 17th century interiors. An expert in the history and techniques of historic artisans, today the artist works in a similar way, however his hand and vision is not beholden now to the rigors of restoration or practice or kingly commissions.
The artist notes that one should remember “that the sun may shine, but it can also burn…”
Long Live the King
You may see many more photos of the artist’s wide-ranging oeuvre on his website