In the News...

Marjie Smith - Nugget Correspondent

It's called Trust Me, says sculptor Chris Vezina, of a marble, body-builder-type bust rippling with bulging bicepts. It's a take-off on the United States' foreign policy of the early 80's, says artist. Indeed, this is a humanization of our southern cousin on megadoses of steroids. Vezina's sculptures are done in exacting and flawless detail; often classical, yet timeless, with the touch of the modern philosopher. In terms of artistic pinnacles, he probably peaked on onec called Hidden Talent. The use of negative and positive space in the depiction of a nun undressing in the solitude of her bedroom, is superb. However, people have difficulty with the idea, admits the artist. But he wanted to make a statement about judging people by outward appearances. And he chose something "almost untouchable", a religious figure, to get his message across.

 

Underneath the generic habit is a soft, feminine woman, complete with garters, stalkings and high heels. "In Italy they loved it," says M. Vezina, "but over here, they love the work, but they can't live with the concept".

Yet, ironically, he finds the North American market likes artist's originals. In Italy reproductions were in demand. "In Italy they don't want an artist's work; they want something that's been around for 3,000 years". He said.

He has done pieces in White Statuario Marble, Black Belgian marble, in Yellow Siena, in Pink Portuguese stone, and the list goes on. He has cast his work in bronze, sometimes giving it a patina, sometimes polishing it with abrasive stones and papers until it shines like glass. "I do my bronzes in very small series, six at most, so they always retain their value," he said. One particular striking polished bronze is called Wet T-Shirt. Rather than cut the torso off abruptly, the artist dropped the shirted figure on a diagonal. The cascading shirt line undulates like the edge of a sea shell.

But he doesn't only do sculptures of humans. He gets to have fun too - fun in the form of a Bay Street gargoyle complete with shirt and tie - fun like a black marble telephone, called Morning Smile, based on telephone sales solicitors. His style - detailed but not predictable - has evolved. He was most concerned about picking up the craft. "Style is something that happens", said Mr. Vezina. "It think a lot of artists go out and try to create a style so they can be different. Then they get stuck in a rut and they're almost forced to stick to that particular style".

And sales are something that happens too. He depends a lot of word of mouth for his business. But, says the artist, "I don't do much Canadiana because I don't want my work to be confused with craft". There are a lot of competent Canadiana crafts people around, he adds. He prefers to stick to the more clearly defined visual arts field.