I bought my first bronze sculpture from Franck Turzo. It’s a small abstract shape, about 4 inches tall with a dark, almost black patina. I have sometimes asked myself: if I had to run out of my burning home, what would I grab? In my mind, this includes a few precious art objects collected over the years. Franck’s piece is amongst them. The shape of the sculpture is a direct contact between the clay he used to fashion the piece and his large, almost bear-like hands. My favorite photo in this essay is of Franck’s hands, holding a bronze. You understand by looking at that image how the negative spaces of the sculpture were shaped by his fingers.
“Sometimes, I integrate my hands in my works as the mark of an imprint, the hold of time, the formatting that we undergo throughout our lives.” His work begins with an abstract form in clay that he compresses, distorts and transforms. The form remains abstract or it appears as figurative at first glance. He begins in the figurative which he ‘translates, compresses, distorts and metamorphoses to create ambivalance’. He is interested in ‘both movement and stillness. Sometimes playful or tactile’. He is most often inspired by animal shapes. “I mainly use the animal world in my sculptures to represent the human race in all its diversity, complexity and behaviors.”
Franck Turzo works full time at the Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres. This is one of the most prestigious and principal porcelain manufacturers in Europe, created in 1740 under Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour. Franck creates the delicate metal work that decorates the porcelains made by other skilled artisans. Bronze making is what he trained in when he was younger so what is remarkable about Franck is that unlike most sculptors I have met, he has complete mastery and knowledge of every step needed to create his pieces. Franck first chooses clay or plaster to create a sculpture. The next step is to create a mould necessary to cast the bronze and then Franck prepares the piece for the foundry by making a wax copy of the original and building a refractory mould where the molten metal will be poured. What most people don't realize is that once the metal is poured and has cooled, there are still several steps to achieve the polished look of a bronze sculpture including painstakingly reworking the rough surface using sand blasting or grinding to achieve the desired texture. Franck spends countless hours preparing the artwork for the final step when he applies the patina; a process where chemicals and pigments are brushed on and sealed with heat. Although bronze remains his favorite material, he researches other materials: ceramics, resin and lately concrete with steel.
I don’t know when Franck finds the time to do all that he does He works all day during the week and often goes to his studio after work where I can expect a message to come through my phone at the craziest hour. He participates in several shows a year in and around Paris, also recently in London and of course, he was part of our show in Toronto this past November. I admire Franck’s untiring enthusiasm and endless creative pursuit. When you have found your passion the way that Franck has, you don’t let go. You hang on to the energy that it gives you and you become engaged in an endless pursuit of perfection. Art feeds the soul. Franck knows that very well.
Written and photographed by Kathleen Finlay