Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Big World of Sculptor Stéphane Guiran

Born and raised in Draguignan, in the Var department of Provence, artist Stéphane Guiran first dreamt of being an airline pilot. ''But I'm bad at taking orders and being disciplined!'' he says. ''Plus, I suffer from vertigo!'' His parents were fish breeders and his grandparents, farmers; art and culture ''were not well represented'' in the Guiran home. It was his Uncle Beppo who almost certainly planted the seeds for the passion that would become a career.  ''Beppo was a sculptor and I loved to go see was a kid's paradise,'' Stéphane remembers. ''There were scraps of iron all over the place, as many unusual objects as you could want, colorful people and good humor. We ran wild in his garden; it tasted of freedom and imagination.'' And while Beppo--a friend of the artist César--taught Stéphane about soldering and the properties of steel, ''I never for one moment thought that I might become a sculptor,'' he recalls.

After university, Stéphane worked as a graphic designer, setting up shop in Paris. Having traveled extensively in Asia and studied Tibetan Buddhism, he called his company Himalaya; he dabbled in calligraphy and poetry for fun. Eventually, after 13 years in the city, Stéphane and his wife, Ghislaine, both felt ready to return to a lifestyle more in tune with nature, more like the one he had enjoyed as a child. ''I had fed off the light of winter mornings,'' he says in his book, ''off the mistral wind's fits of temper, off the warmth of the family houses, the rollicking accent of the people surrounding me, the earthy cooking's perfumes. I missed all that and had the feeling that something was drying up inside me.''

One day in 1998, the family drove through Eygalieres ''by accident'' and stopped. (The Guirans have three children: Tiphaine, 18; Lilian,15; and Timothée, 12.) ''Something happened that I can't explain,'' he remembers, ''a heart throb that surprised me. I knew many well-preserved villages in Provence but had never felt anything so powerful. We knew immediately that this was where we should settle. I didn't know that I'd become an artist and didn't know Eygalieres. I only knew I wanted to change my lifestyle.''

Stéphane soon began painting and sculpting for pleasure, but it wasn't until he spent 13 months in Barcelona (2004/5)--where he learned foundry, metalworking, casting and molding in sand and soft wax--and worked with bronze, mixed nickel and steel--that he felt he could call rightfully himself an artist.

I had been hearing about Stéphane for years before I had the chance to finally meet him at a concert at his home last summer; it turns out he's extremely active in the Provence music scene as well as the local visual-arts community. (He's also a partner in one of my favorite local hangouts, the Cafe de la Place in Eygalieres.) But I got to know his work up close and personal when, to celebrate a major birthday, my friends here in St. Remy treated themselves to one of his large, dramatic and extremely beautiful sculptures...after four years spent searching for the perfect piece for their garden. They're thrilled with the installation.

Today St
éphane's work is known far beyond Provence. He has pieces in museums, foundations and hotels as far away as Macao, and has exhibited in Paris, Lausanne, San Diego, Melbourne, Brussels and Florence, among others. His gorgeous 189-page hardcover book Stephane Guiran, written by Gerard Xuriguera, was published by FVW Editions (Paris) in 2011. There were just 1000 copies printed, 300 of them an English. To buy the book you can email Stephane at the address below or find it on Amazon here.

Because Stéphane is represented by a gallery in Lausanne, many locals and visitors in Provence miss out on seeing his sculptures. They're usually (but not always) monumental in size and crafted from bronze or steel but Stéphane also loves to work with glass. The more of his work I see, the more I love it. You can download a PDF of his recent work here.

If you find yourself in Isle sur la Sorgue, Stéphane currently has one mid-size sculpture on view at the Villa Datris contemporary sculpture museum. And he has five glass and metal pieces on display in a joint exhibit (with photographer Eric Bourret) at the Galerie DNR in the Village des Antiquaires de la Gare, located at 2 bis, avenue de l'Égalité (04 90 38 04 57, 06 03 15 64 93, ). The gallery is open Saturday, Sunday, Monday and holidays from 10 am to 7 pm and also by appointment. The show runs through December 31st. 

Or, if you'd like to meet the artist in his element, he welcomes visitors in both his Eygalieres studio and his ''dust and noise-filled'' St. Remy workshop, but by appointment only, please. A friend who recently led an artists' studio tour here in Provence said their visit with Stéphane was a highlight of the trip.
Stephane Guiran
Avenue Leon Blum
13810 Eygalieres
+33 (0)6 33 43 88 57

Photos from top (click to enlarge): 1: Temperance, installed in a private collection on Lake Leman in Lausanne. 2: Stéphane, photographed by Bruno Suet. 3: A piece in progress, in Stephane's workshop in St. Remy. 4: Correspondances, in a private collection in Eygalieres in the Alpilles. 5: Quatrain 1, a 30x30x30 cm sculpture made of glass.6: Stéphane's first monumental sculpture installed in the Samsara sculpture park in Roussillon, in the Luberon region of Provence.7: Another enormous piece in progress in the workshop. 8: A whimsical glass installation hangs from the trees at Stéphane's studio in Eygalieres. 

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  1. Amazing talent in the region. Thanks for sharing Julie

  2. I love the complimentary curves of the tree and the sculpture beside it - lovely!

  3. Looking forward to seeing these when I am next in Saint Remy in two weeks time!!