It was one of the destinations I was looking forward the most during my trip to Paris: visit Brancusi’s atelier reconstructed as an extension of the Con- temporary Art Museum Georges Pompidou. As it tends to happen in iconic destinations such as Paris, one arrives with a series of images of the city that shape expectations. In this occasion, I had in mind a black and white photograph where the Rumanian sculptor was sitting at his studio in between a series of his sculptures. Even though Brancusi was a robust man, his body seems to be one more robust body in the space. What had captured my attention from that photograph was how Brancusi seemed to be emerged in a space mostly inhabited by his work. One could see material all around, raw material, waiting to be manipulated by the talented sculptor. As the line to enter the gallery advanced little by little, I was suspicious that, since I was visiting what it is a reconstruction of the original atelier, it was very possible that the spirit of the place that had so fascinated me in the photograph might have been missing, misplaced. To add to my suspicion, as I enter the rst exhibition space, I noticed that a cord, meant to control the crowd, separated the circula- tion walkway from the sculptures. Still, as soon as I saw Brancusi’s sculptures crowded in a way, as he used to have them in his original atelier, I was proven wrong; the spirit of the photograph I was so attracted to was still palpable. Each sculpture stood with a material dignity that was enhanced by the light entering from above. And in conjunction, they made up a very peculiar yet consistent family. Each sculpture carrying its own density, its own materiality, in its own shape, yet it was evident they all came from the same hand, a tough yet sensitive hand. Once again I was surprised by the mood that remained from the photograph: that of a space that felt organic, a space in constant construction; a space that changed with each new action the sculptor took. It was not clear which sculptures were nished, which rough block of wood was waiting to be worked on or had already been worked into that rawness. The space felt inhabited by the process of making. The space pulsated with the energy of raw materials.
One must keep in mind that it was Brancusi himself who took the black and white photographs we now see it most of his monographs. To him, it was of utmost importance to document his sculp- tures under what he perceived to be the ideal conditions. And that happened to be just as he lived them day-by-day, in his studio. In certain of these photographs, one can perceive a series of daily tools of inhabitation: a bed in a corner, a stove in between sculptures, a table that like other sculptures seemed to be comprised by the stacking of one raw material over another. At times, the table he used to eat at was no different from any of the solid bases he initiated his sculptures with. Brancusi’s atelier, cannot be forgotten, was also his living space. He lived amongst his sculptures. It could be said that Brancusi lived the time and space of his sculptural work. Some pieces stand highly polished. Others remain raw. Still, they all seem to stand in a latent state, receptive to one last touch from their maker.
Going back to my experience of his atelier, I was surprised that even with the absence of the sculptor, the space felt vital, alive. It is my per- ception that the vitality takes place as one moves within the space. It is then that the corporality of the space shows itself, as we recognize the space that is created between the sculptures. The result is that the space itself becomes sculptural.
Brancusi must have enjoyed living within all that materiality. There is something in it all that transmits a state of constant metamorphosis. The sculptures, all of them in process, must have cre- ated a sense of familiarity, if not a sense of family that kept the sculptor company. The interaction, some of it visual, a lot of it manual, must have gotten deeper with each movement. Each new sculpture transformed and activated in a new way the space. If we put attention, which intrinsically
implies the use of our imagination, we can, even in the visit Brancusi’s reconstructed atelier, perceive the tactile relationship the sculptor must have es- tablished with his space and with all the sculptures that conform it – a life of contact.
In the same spirit, Katerina Alatzia’s sculptures – a series of bodies of objects – create a sense of familiarity. They are at once worked out with a precise geometry that rings of the universal at the same time that they are worked out at the scale of the hand. The result is that one feels one has in their possession a world of space; In one’s hand one grabs a utopia – complex shapes that one can comprehend, that one feels familiar with. Alatzia’s sculptures pulsate with a similar vitality as the work of Brancusi does. Alatzia’s sculptures turn out to be objects, no doubt, meticulously worked out. And perhaps because of it, is that one feels the weight in them, the weight of labor, the weight of effort. Alatzia’s sculptures are beautiful objects that gain their beauty by carrying in them their taking shape – they are sculptural bodies that show the effort of the body that worked on them. I believe that quality can only be achieved when one’s purpose is to give life to an object. With that in mind, I believe Katerina Alatzia’s work pulsates. It pulsates with a sense of utopia – with a desire to give shape to the intangible.
text: Ivan Hernandez Quintela