1 of 5
Spring 2006 Cover
Spring 2006 Cover
2 of 5
Reinhard Skoracki in his studio
Reinhard Skoracki in his studio.
3 of 5
"A Stair, not deeply hollowed by steps, as seen by itself, is only something wooden, specially assembled"
Reinhard Skoracki: "A Stair, not deeply hollowed by steps, as seen by itself, is only something wooden, specially assembled," (Franz Kafka, Oktavheft G). 2006, bronze, wood, 42 x 51 x 9 cm
4 of 5
"Giorgio Armani, 2001"
Reinhard Skoracki: "Giorgio Armani, 2001," bronze, oil on canvas, 56 x 32 x 20 cm
5 of 5
"The power of the Straight Line is Always Superior to the Curve, (Le Corbusier)"
Reinhard Skoracki: "The power of the Straight Line is Always Superior to the Curve, (Le Corbusier)," 2004/05, bronze, steel and graphite drawing. 88 x 44 x 12 cm
BY: Wes LaFortune
Calgary-based sculptor Reinhard Skoracki, 63, has been reborn.
Fully in charge of his life after retiring from a high-powered career in the advertising business and a period working as an entrepreneur, Skoracki has a message that he wants to communicate through his pocket-sized bronze sculptures: Wake up!
“To wake up and say we didn’t realize that we have been manipulated too much,” says
Skoracki. “I think that is what’s important.”
Placing much of the blame on television for what he perceives as society’s malaise, Skoracki recognizes the irony of a former adman invoking independent thought. “That’s the oxymoron,” he quips.
Fit, trim and content, this professional artist seems an unlikely candidate to be a social provocateur. Skoracki has been happily married for nearly 40 years, with a son who is a medical doctor in the U.S. and a burgeoning art career that continues to bring him recognition.
But take a closer look at the tiny cast bronze figures he creates in the basement of his Calgary home and you begin to realize there is more to Skoracki than smiles, success and good cheer.
Born in 1942 to a family of Polish ancestry in the village of Grosse-Hesepe, Germany, in the midst of the Second World War, he was too young to have any memories of that defining world event and describes his early existence as a “beautiful childhood.”
“The war was over when I was three years old,” he says. “But still as a kid, as a young child, I didn’t see it. Even the suffering after the war — we had enough to eat, my father was a baker. Children don’t feel it like that; they play, play, play.”
Quintessential Skoracki is his piece of a man climbing a set of stairs while holding up another set of stairs. The title — derived from Kafka’s Oktavheft G — is A stair, not deeply hollowed by steps, as seen by itself, is only something wooden, specially assembled. Initially this work provokes laughter, then it burrows deep into your brain, leaving a feeling that the joke is on us, the viewers.
Like Kafka, whose novels and short stories, such as Amerika and The Metamorphosis, have been described as existential analyses of life, Skoracki uses satire to execute his clear-eyed musings about the world. He wants viewers of his small-scale works to lean in, closely inspecting the pieces that he hopes sum up in eloquent fashion the essence of human existence.
The sculpture Marriage (see cover image) is another example of Skoracki’s sharp wit at play. Two bronze figures, female and male, hold a large orb over their heads. The sphere could be light and easy to manage, or dense and heavy, threatening to crush the two figures poised precariously beneath.
and the struggle,” says Skoracki about the piece. “From both sides, not one side. Everything has to be equal in marriage, or else it doesn’t work.”
Jacek Malec, director of the Triangle Gallery of Visual Arts in Calgary and an admirer of Skoracki’s cast-in-bronze philosophy, says Skoracki’s powerful synthesis of the figure and its movement forms a strong body of work. “Skoracki feels an abiding sympathy for displaced, shunned members of society,” says Malec. “A deep humanism haunts his expressive, classical forms. His sculptures and installations reflect la condition humaine, in which fundamental questions about humankind are expressed as hand-to-hand combat between artist and subject. In his work he tries to wrest that fundamental grain of truth, regardless of whether his truth bears a joyous or a frightening countenance.”
Skoracki creates works that are pieces of art but also poignant moments of human drama. The bronze figures seem to come alive, birthed by an artist at the zenith of his creative output.
Like Kafka, Skoracki is living out his own metamorphosis. After leaving behind his life in big business and mass advertising, the sculptor now lives in a world of art, using creations small enough to hold in your hand to cast gargantuan ideas about being human.
Reinhard Skoracki is represented by Art Ark Gallery in Kelowna and Herringer Kiss Gallery in Calgary. A show of Skoracki's work runs February 24 to April 2, 2006 at the Prairie Art Gallery, Grande Prairie, Alberta.
Wes Lafortune is a full-time freelance writer based in Calgary. He regularly writes about the arts, business and social affairs.