“It comes from intuition”
The link between a Ken Doll and abstract figures created by the Antwerp-born sculptor Florian Tomballe may seem hard to find, but for him, they are part of the same practice.
Connected through the idealism and body worship found in ancient Greek art, they are testament to Tomballe’s well-substantiated way of working, yet also the reflection of his artistic freedom to veer away to the foundations of sculpture.
The 31-year-old sculptor was surrounded by art from a very young age – what with an art painter as a father – and studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in his hometown, where he is still based, in a delightfully art and light-filled atelier.
“I was skilled at drawing and painting, but in one way or another, I couldn’t completely find myself in it”, Tomballe says about his student days. “During our final year, we received a sculpture assignment, a self-portrait. It became very clear to me that this was the direction I wanted to follow.”
After finishing his degree, Tomballe felt insufficiently trained in that regard, and decided to follow life-drawing classes. “I wanted to master those proportions and figures”, he tells. “I also schooled myself in anatomy, classical figures and heads. I wanted to be able to handle those. It’s a kind of map in which you must find your way. And once you’ve found it, it gives you so much freedom.”
The sculpture ‘Standing Effort’, which stands in Fosbury & Sons Boitsfort is an example of such a figure, abstracted and made his own completely. Like his other current work, it’s an exercise in balance, rhythm and lines; figures exerting an effort, straining between tension and calm.
“It comes from intuition”, he muses. “It all starts with something that fits the palm of your hand. Then I place myself before a block and try to cut. It’s a kind of figurative puzzling. You just have to follow it, you cannot let ego or premeditation guide you. You have to listen.”