Enrico Challier

België, 1974°


I believe that very few things in the world are more sacred and beautiful than a tree, alone, on top of a hill. The solemn yet in constant movement silhouette of a tree has the power to move me. Still, always. Since I was a child I have silently observed the trees. I have loved them more and more since then and the conscious choice of entrusting my art to them has sprung from this deep love.

They are the perfect material because they always choose verticality; they can flex, bend, even break, but they will always try to go up and reach for the sky. Because to ascend, to rise, to look upward is the mission of their life, it is the primal law that is enshrined in their cells and that same law vivifies and motivates my art.

The fundamental task of artists is to guide upward whoever has refined senses and goodwill. Flying high. Meaning spiritual uplifting, as a gift to all, in order to let everyone believe in beauty. If we allow ourselves to create, then we are completely responsible for what we create. A true artist can reveal mystic truths and, according to me, he must strive tirelessly to look for beauty, for only Beauty will save us.

It doesn’t mean closing our eyes in front of reality, but transforming it, just like wood gets transfigured in my sculptures. A dense dialogue between the tree trunk, still but not silent or inert in front of me, and myself. Following lines, knots, venations and combining them with the winding elegance of the curves or the sharp tension of the angles, in order to exalt and glorify the human form, still explored and never completely so. Wood is a corruptible material, so it is human nature. Corruptible but steadfast. In its not being immutable lies its strength, and the same is the strength of man.

I sculpt wood because it’s what I love most in life. I sculpt because I couldn’t live without doing it and I have a sculptural vision of life. What is superfluous, unessential, falls to the ground, useless, just like wood chips under the strokes of my gouges.

I sculpt for Love. I love to sculpt.

Enrico Challier

About Enrico Challier

Beyond the walls

The space of the work of art and the space around the work of art. The wooden sculptures by Enrico Challier and a series of monumental buildings and industrial sites in Pinerolo (TO), that have been for years in a state of complete neglect. To witness the unusual charm of this impermanent dialogue, and to give it a special visual value, the photos taken on location by Valentina Costantino. This is what the exhibition is about.

The installation of artistic works in unconventional urban contexts (for whatever reason they may be meaningful) has been an on-going practice for quite some time now almost everywhere, but it’s a novelty for Pinerolo. And this idea of going “Beyond the Walls” is noteworthy because it springs from the intelligent interaction of two cultural demands which are synergistically compatible: on one hand the desire of an artist to make his works known in the best possible way, to make people appreciate them from a wider and more socially alive perspective; on the other hand, the commitment of all those who contributed to this initiative (also in collaboration with the Association Italia Nostra) in order to do something to sensitise the public opinion and the competent authorities about the distressing deterioration of buildings that represent fundamental parts of the architectural identity and the historical and social memory of the city.

The idea was making the thin and slender female figures sculpted by Challier “visit” these locations, in order to create an estranging short circuit able to activate a surprising vision of the places to explore. Thanks to the well studied placing and arrangements of the art works and to the evocative framing of the photos, it has been successfully triggered the fascination that comes from the “aesthetics of ruins”, that is to say what makes us perceive – even if just for an instant, in a suspended and contemplative dimension – all the intensity of time, which permeates old and solemn spaces, full of dust and rubble, powerful but crumbled walls, rooms and halls with remains of furniture, sheds and warehouses full of wreckage and trash and places that are now just a receptacle for birds and stray cats.

It’s the gentle and fairy-like enchantment that the sculptures radiate that makes us see things from such a perspective. But this enchantment, which only virtually remains in the photographic images, soon disappears; when you put your feet on the ground again, you find yourself facing the harsh reality of a sad situation, that the city tries to remove from its collective awareness, pretending to forget it exists, instead of reacting and create a virtuous circle that could succeed in curing these urban diseases.

After the brave outings (in places like the ruins of Palazzo degli Acaja, the upstairs floor of the baroque Palazzo Vittone, a venue with a glorious equestrian past like the former Scuola della Mascalcia – the farriery school, or the cold industrial spaces of the former Merlettificio Turk, the lace making factory) the sculptures have fatally come back to the spaces dedicated to art, where they can be calmly admired by the visitors. But their adventure, their environmental mission, has generated a photographic work that has its own specific artistic quality. An added value which is essential for the overall meaning of the exhibition.

To conclude, I think it’s right to underline the fact that the sculptures by Challier, modern nieces of the diaphanous female figures of Art Nouveau (but also, in some way, related to Valentina, the cartoon character created by Guido Crepax), even if they are idealistically inspired by literary (mainly poetic) suggestions, are nonetheless artistic creations that come from walnut tree trunks and so they maintain (because the artist wants so) a very communicative botanical soul, that of the woods from which they come, that of the art studio – full of wood – where they are conceived, born, exposed to light, coloured and decorated. Their message in this occasion is also (if we may say so) to hope for a new approach and harmony between natural environment and urban context.

Francesco Poli

Artistic resume and press


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