Notes about Benoît Luyckx' sculptures, Gilbert Lascault

The invention of surfaces

As far as Benoit Luyckx is concerned, to sculpt involves, among other things, thinking about surfaces’ pluralities. Or rather, it means for him to re-invent surfaces, to let surfaces interplay with each other, to confront them one with another, to let them glide one inside another. He provides himself with the rough and the smooth, the mat and the shiny.

He makes them cohabit within one another inside the same sculpture.

Sometimes, on part of the surface, he draws a kind of veil, a geometrical network. He combines oblique planes with vertical and horizontal planes. To flat surfaces he adds voluptuous curved surfaces. He brings together large plain surfaces and a multiplicity of little ragged surfaces.

He   simultaneously loves smoothness and rough edges, the mastered and the raw, the immaculate and the worked-over. He imposes no hierarchies between the surfaces. Each surface becomes more varied, richer, as he puts it in contact with others of a different density.

One must accord a great importance to these surface games, to these skin-deep encounters. We recall Paul Valéry’s important and paradoxical statement : «deepest of all is the skin ».

We also recall the philosopher Gilles Deleuze’s theory : « it may be that the conquest of surfaces might be the greatest effort in psychic life, both in sexuality and in thinking ».

Light games

To play with surfaces is to play with light, reflecting it, diffracting it, dispersing it, morphing it.

Sculpture creates entrapments for light. It captures, steals, transforms, reflects it. According to the times of day, according to the skies, the sculpture changes. In fact, quite frequently Benoit Luyckx allows his sculptures to turn by means of an axis on their base, in order to increase the possible permutations of light.

Direct carving

At first Benoit Luyckx worked with the chalky stone of Saint Restitut. Nowadays, he works mostly in marble, black or white. He enjoys carving the stone directly, the contact with the material, the risk he takes at every instant of breaking his work.

He says « I can never go back, nor stick the piece together again ». Thanks to direct carving, he experiences a complicity with the marble and with its rebellions. Sometimes, happily, he feels he can guess at the marble’s wishes and help it carry them out. He himself accomplishes the marble’s dreams. And he also encounters its amazing and paradoxical frailty.

For marble is a mass that a careless gesture can break apart.

Fascination with geometry

Cubes, machines, the New York skyscrapers reflecting one another, the regularity of the windows in modern cities, fascinate Benoit Luyckx. Faced with modernity’s geometry, he is simultaneously beguiled and frightened. He wants his sculptures to represent them, to tame them, and also put them in touch with the fleshly, with voluptuousness, with dreams. One of his works is entitled : Mécanique d’évasion (Escape mechanism), as if the purpose of mechanics was freedom and happiness…

Folds, curves, arabesques

Curves, folds, contours, inflections. Arched, rounded, domed, circular, surrounded, wrapped, curved, undulating, rippling, sinuous, twisted. Arabesques, arches, elbows, festoons, meanders, spirals, scrolls. Pleats, fringes, curls, hollows, coils, labyrinths. To fold, to bend, to sew, to warp. To caress. Always stroking. These are a few of the words summoned forth by Benoit Luyckx’ sculptures.

In his works, the earth’s great waves, a fabric’s pleats, a cherished body’s curves summon each other forth, and in a sense they dream one of the other.

There are frequent hints of a woman’s breasts, of her sex, her hips, of the encounter of two loving bodies.

These are always deliberately imprecise hints and are therefore all the more troubling. Because here desire is diffused, undefined, simultaneously specific and imprecise. Here sculpture is born of Eros’ wanderings.

Gilbert Lascault, art critic

Translated into English by Ann Cremin