At the foot of the wall

Meeting with the sculptor Jean Amado 

in Ivry-sur-Seine

L'Humanité, June 2, 1986, 

article by Raoul-Jean Moulin

Jean Amado :  Crowning the pools, it is more a wall than a sculpted object. The water in the basins overflows and cascades over steps of sorts, adding a natural element to the sculpture's sensibility. The water brings to the sculpture and the sculpture brings to the water something I don't know, perhaps one more mystery, but there is an exchange from one to the other, as in these fountains that the moss covers to the point of stealing what is underneath. Here, the water plays the role of vegetation that slips into the cracks, that makes its way through the sculpture, like a site that the earth wants to take back, to reappropriate it to make it disappear.

I don't feel like a sculptor. I don't spend my time circling around what I'm doing. In the beginning, I was preoccupied with formal problems, but what I am trying to elaborate today is integrated into my own existence and proves to me that I exist in relation to nature. Basically, sculpture is a tool for me. I don't look at the level of doing but of need. To escape any immutable order, to incorporate myself into the great vital forces, to find a time between life and death and to delay the moment of disappearing... If all my sculptures are hollow, is it not to approach the idea of matrix, of body, of tomb? My vision starts from the inside and the one who looks at my sculpture must imagine from the inside while he is outside.

For example, when I draw, I trace the elements of the two sides of the sculpture that I project, those of the front, never or rarely those of the back. I can't close, fence. To close is to define, to signify once and for all. But when the gaze cannot grasp both sides simultaneously, that interests me! The ideal, it is the great wall of China, it is to conceive a sculpture without end... It is necessary to dream.

How can we appropriate anything if we can't dream? It is necessary to open freely all the field of the possible meanings, to create unexpected shifts so as to multiply the backgrounds, to concretize new feelings. It is necessary to create a world that is not that of everyday life, a world on the scale of the imaginary and the wildest dreams.

I don't necessarily draw for sculpture, but in the details always appear parts that can enter my sculpture. A drawing starts from almost nothing; from a way of scribbling that already contains all the means to reconstitute the thing. What is blurred in the head becomes visible on paper. Drawing is the starting point of a possible image, it is a training to see.

The monumental implies a more elaborate drawing. As the project becomes more precise, the voids and the solids, the planes and the masses vary, tilt, interpenetrate. It's long, it can last for days... When I'm done with it, I know the drawing by heart, I've totally assimilated it. Then I rush to the studio. The need to do what is already there on the paper becomes greater than the fear of starting. I have to enter the scene and everything I had quoted, measured - no doubt to make me feel secure - has to be part of a practice that implies assuming unforeseen variations. To remove, add, take away, modify, to express at the same time the essential and the whole, to work with almost nothing. In fact the obsession is not to be able to finish. But if there were no contradiction to resolve, perhaps there would be no sculpture.

In Ivry, I played with a micro-space, according to the buildings and the traffic axes. I did not try to integrate myself into the environment, because my way of working is different. The three massifs of my great wall with their remains of troglodyte habitats, are oriented to produce a counterpoint with the architecture. It is a new presence in the city and one can never foresee how it will function, how it will perhaps one day become a place.


 Jean Amado