Not Vital – HEAD (2016)
In 2022 it was the first time that work by Not Vital (b. Sent, Switzerland, 1948, lives in Brazil, Chile, China and Switzerland) was exhibited in the Netherlands. Lustwarande was showing one of his monumental HEADs: a series of sculptures of abstract heads, which he has been making since 2013.
Not Vital has a nomadic lifestyle. He travels a lot and lives in various countries. The inspiration for his works comes from the impressions he gathers in the many different locations to which he travels. For HEADs, he visited various locations where iconic monumental sculptures of heads can be found, recalling the moai on Easter Island, the heads of gods on Mount Nemrut in Turkey, the heads in Angkor Wat’s Bayon temple in Cambodia and the life-sized realistic heads of Ifè in Nigeria.
In the form, material and colour of his sculptures, Vital always searches for connection to the physical locations and to their traditions and cultures, which inspire him to create his work. This anthropological aspect of Vital’s practice makes his sculptures symbolic bearers of traditions and cultures, but he translates them into a contemporary idiom.
His sculptures push the boundaries between abstract and figurative forms and are made of plaster, gold, silver, stainless steel, ceramics, marble or bronze and organic materials such as coal, soap and tea. The work usually contains motifs of animals and the natural world. Growing up in Switzerland influenced his sense of connection with nature. He likes to play with his surroundings and takes into account the external circumstances that may influence the experience of his work. He once placed a sculpture in the sea, for example, so that it was visible only at low tide.
The ceramic work HEAD (2016) never looked entirely the same. The gleaming layer of glaze made the sculpture appear to change colour over the course of the day: from white to blue or grey, depending on the light and the intensity of the sun.