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Nicolas Desbons

Stylistic, Sublime, Steel

Trained in industrial design, Nicolas Desbons’ life revolves around metal work. He divides his energy and creativity between locksmithing, ironwork, and his passion: sculpture. Working primarily with steel, this sculptural artist creates airy, exquisite forms that, despite their material composition, seem to have been shaped out of thin air.

Let’s meet this prolific sculptor and forger or forms…

K. Hello Nicolas, thank you for meeting with us today! Our first question is regarding your media: metal. How did you come to work with this material?

I have always been part of the artistic spheres. After high school I studied at the California College for Arts and Crafts in San Francisco in the early 1990s.

At the time I was dedicated to photography. But then I quickly discovered ceramics which completely fascinated me (and still do). My parents, however, had completely vetoed it. I eventually gave in and started studying industrial design. I went through the whole curriculum with a systematic interest in the material: jewelry, carpentry, welding and metal-working.

Here we are, a class, a teacher who is a sculptor and a new subject totally compatible with my state of mind! It was a shock from which, 30 years later, I have still not recovered.

I decided to explore all of the nooks and crannies of metal-working. My training in design taught me a methodology for my projects. At first, it was more oriented towards furniture and lighting. Sculpture only came later, in the 2000s.

K. Do you define yourself as a metalsmith or as an artist?

I don’t really like to be put in boxes, even if it is important to be able to define one’s lifework. I continue to cultivate my diversity by navigating from sculpture to everyday objects because the material allows me to. Indeed, steel has the versatility to be applied to many fields.

K. Does sculpture require more letting go than control?

One’s approach to the material presupposes control and attention because the use of machines is constant. But with experience, one can let go and it is easier to be in tune with the material itself.

Nicolas Desbons – Studio

K. In which place and/or which atmosphere do you create?

My place of creation is my studio. The atmosphere can vary depending on the music and whether or not I’m in tune with the task at hand. There is a massive difference in process when I forge and when I’m applying a patina or the finishing touches.

Nicolas Desbons – Studio

K. What are the stages in the creation of one of your sculptures? And what is the relationship with the female form?

The first stages of finding a model are done with everyday people. It is first of all a meeting and then a stripping down. We must then create a cast, which can be a difficult ordeal. It is essential that this step goes well, otherwise the sculpture is affected.

Working with the feminine form is like a never-ending encounter. The study of women’s bodies could be summed up in the richness of their curves, which for a sculptor is extremely interesting, but it is not enough. As a sculptor, one’s work must go beyond the physical.

Then, I take to the metal-working. This is a whole other story because it takes place in my workshop, in the world of steel. It’s less elegant because there are machines everywhere, scraps in boxes, small flakes of steel and metal flying around everywhere.

Un Temps au Bord du Volcan

Metal Sculpture (30 x 85 cm)

« The study of women’s bodies could be summed up in the richness of their curves, which for a sculptor is extremely interesting, but it is not enough. »

La Chute d’Hercules

Metal Sculpture (38 x 76 cm)

K. How would you describe expertise within metalsmithing?

This sort of expertise is the sum of experiences related to the material as it is.

K. Which sculpture are you most proud of?

I don’t have any particular pride with my sculptures. Although I do really my most recent ones. Plus I’m really into bronzes at the moment.

Nicolas Desbons – Studio

K. If you were able to meet a famous artist, which one would it be?

Brancusi and nobody else. For the humanity of the person, for the quality of his work. For his relationship to the studio, the light and the almost religious placement of his forms.

K. What are your plans for the future?

Who’s to say…perhaps I’ll begin sculpting on a different scale?

Nicolas Desbons’ Gallery

The Girl in Blue

Bronze Sculpture (80 x 53 cm)

Swing

Metal Sculpture (56 x 76 cm)

Marion

Metal Sculpture (37 x 85 cm)

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