Sculptor Gil Bruvel is pushing the limits of his craft with a new set of pixelated portraits. Primarily crafted from thousands of wood sticks, these anonymous faces are painted in colorful gradients that accentuate their features. This series of masks, as well as several steel sculptures, are currently on display at Galerie Montemarte as part of the Face to Face exhibition. In this exhibit, Bruvel's sculptures are paired with painted portraits by Italian artist Silvio Porzionato.
Bruvel's relationship with wood began thanks to his father, who was a cabinetmaker. After gaining woodworking skills from his father, he then spent time in a restoration workshop where his knowledge of wood deepened. By putting this knowledge to work, Bruvel is able to deftly craft his portraits while also paying homage to his chosen medium.
The sculptor uses a wood-burning technique called yakisugi to treat his wood naturally. Commonly employed in Japan, this technique brings a deep charcoal color to the wood, which is later painted in colorful gradients to represent the emotions that flow through our minds. According to the type of wood and the duration of the burning, Bruvel brings out different textures that add to the final sculpture.
“Brushing the ash away from the surface exposes the accentuated pattern of the wood grain,” he shares. “This is of interest to me in relation to the subject matter of the faces, which are meditative.”
But Bruvel's work is not limited to wood. The exhibition also highlights his Flow series, which are sculptures rendered in steel. Here, the faces are built up of strips and strands of steel. Masterfully molded, these individual pieces build up the facial features. Again playing with texture, the final result is surprisingly soft given the hardness of the material.
Through his pixelated forms and curving lines, Bruvel aims to bring serenity and peace to the viewer, while also rendering an organic material into something geometric. The end results are sculptures that are undeniably unique and evocative.
Face to Face is currently on view at Galerie Montemarte in Paris until May 14, 2022.