World Artists and their Story, 30 - Luk van Soom
Two years ago I was in the Belgian embassy for the presentation of the book 'Into View - Tevoorschijn' about the work of the Belgian artist Luk van Soom. The book looks back at 40 years art career. The book itself is also a piece of art, cut off round at the top right hand and with a handle in the book itself so you can grab it.
There were also some beautiful sculptures in the embassy rooms. In every sculpture there was humor. I indulged in Van Soom's work and saw that he is a true craftsman who works with many materials: bronze, steel, aluminum, plaster, concrete and polyester. He tries to carry out the work as much as possible by himself.
Van Soom has had many remarkable exhibitions, assignments and projects at home and abroad. He represented Belgium at the 1992 World Exhibition in Spain and created more than 50 monumental works in public space in the Netherlands and Belgium, including the Man of Atlantis in Brussels and The Wharfinger in Zwolle.
I see the cloud coming back, in various shapes. A few weeks after the exhibition, Luk van Soom says, asked for his theme: "That is the earth and the universe, the gravity and the adventures of humankind over the centuries. My work is full of it. I look at Earth as a planet in our galaxy in the midst of other galaxies. Humanity I see from afar. That already started when I was young. I am busy with the big questions. "
Duo bird cottage
As a key work, he denotes the Curl. That curl returns regularly, for example in the work ‘As it evolves’ (‘Zoals het evolueert’), the streamlined ‘Osmunda Rossa’ and the duo bird house ‘Tristan & Isolde’. “It is about the moment of rolling off. It is a growth process. You see the spiral as a growth pattern show up in nature. For example, the shell of a snail house, the ferns in the forest. This form is very special to me. It is the eternal rolling off, like a movie rolls itself off. How long do we exist? And we’re constantly rolling off.”
In ‘Tristan and Isolde’ the curl is placed under the two bird holes, which you can also see as two eyes. And then the curl is the nose. “My idea was that birds may also have a nice house, a house of beautiful architecture. And that curl, the nose then acts as a lure thing, to lure them to the house.”
In Van Soom's work, much science is hidden and also quite some philosophy. "I read a lot. For example, Rupert Sheldrake's studies on twins and telepathy. A twin, one of whom lives in Australia and the other half on the other side of the globe, appears to have the same feelings at the same time. In science, we speak of 'Morphic Resonance'. There is a kind of collective memory where traces of the past are passed through by waves. Can we separate the body and the mind? How do human beings communicate? How are brains driven? I've been thinking about it for a long time, but it only appears in the work after years." Witnesses are the two identical bronze girl heads of 'Twin sisters'.
Religion is also a theme. In his younger years, at school, his teacher could captivate the pupils. "About Jesus who brings the storm to rest, who turns water into wine and resurrects Lazarus. Many years later, I decided to take him from that eternal cross and give him another image: that of Jesus the superfigure. Superman was a ‘man of the people’ as well. In my sculpture, I let Jesus fly out of a cloud, including a superhero cape. "
A Christmas speech by Pope Franciscus gave Van Soom the idea of handing the sculpture personally to the Pope. Through the diocese he got an audience and at St. Peter’s Square of Bernini he handed over the sculpture to the Pope. "He looked surprised. As I gave him a hand and said a rehearsed Italian sentence, I saw that he started to smile. When I had finished my sentences he admitted that he found it very beautiful and he received it with a smile. That moment will stay with me for a long time. ……"
A life in images
It all began when Luk van Soom was 15 to 16 years old. He was trained as a carpenter / furniture maker. After consulting a local carpenter and visiting the Middelheim Museum, he decided to follow a part-time study at an Academy in Turnhout. He continued at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp and the National Higher Institute of Fine Arts, also in Antwerp.
Since 1998 he is officially an independent visual artist. The ideas for artworks keep on flowing. “If you have passion, you go on. I live and think in images. Everything I see I translate into an image. Actually it’s too much, so I have to choose. Unfortunately I can not make everything what comes into my mind.”
1) The man who fondles the clouds, 2) The Man of Atlantis, 3) The Man of Atlantis, 4) Laocoon without sons, 5) Luk van Soom, 6) Noli mi tangere, 7) Noli mit tangere 2, 8) Oh Superman, 9) Order in the universe, 10) Osmunda Rossa, 11) Sky Out, 12, The Wharfinger, 13) Tristan & Isolde, 14) Cloud Studio