PATINATION

Patination and its techniques have been of prime importance since the ages. Most people wouldn’t think that colour is of any importance when it comes to sculpture, but just the form and texture itself. Archeological findings suggest otherwise (see pdf).
The truth is that most people don’t know the intricacies of patination, how the colour can add value to the bronze – allowing the viewer to read form and texture better, but also telling a narrative of the sculptors intent. Sculptors rely on fine art foundries to facilitate the entire process of casting and finishing a bronze sculpture once it has been sculpted from clay, wax or other means. Casting a bronze sculpture isn’t really a creative process, it needs to be as true to the original clay piece as possible, with minimal distortions. The patina on the other hand is a complete separate creative process, one that should be nurtured and driven by the sculptor – but in the hands of the Patineur.

The Patineur needs to know his stuff. This includes his palette and the means to which he approaches each piece. Granted, this doesn’t have to be a lengthily and complicated process, it can be a rather simple one, allowing a uniform and even colour development on the surface of the bronze, but honestly, if every sculptor chose the same patina, wheres the voice, wheres the creativity. Theres much to be said, but this is something that needs to be seen. As I’m sitting here typing this, I know that my climbs words can not do the topic justice, but I need to try.

Colour

Im not talking about a multi-patina, the type that has brown skin, blue dress and pink socks here – thats kitch, and I don’t care much for this type of patina. Granted, in a world of creativity – there is a place for such, but not in my book. What Im talking about is colour within colour. Its when you see a predominantly brown / green / black patina, but as you step closer, you notice hues of a different sort, flecks of other colours – much like what we find in nature.

Opacity

Its often that persons could mistaken a bronze sculpture for wood, or some other material. This isn’t good, it doesn’t make overall sense to make something expensive look inferior. This is where opacity becomes important, being able to see through the layers of the patina down to the bronze allows the viewer to recognise the intrinsic value of the medium.

Translucency

This is much related to the opacity. Since a bronze is 3 dimensional by nature, it has dynamic shapes – with areas that are higher than others. These are called – high points. If you were to touch the sculpture, say, to rub it; you would connect with these highpoints, and its in these areas that the bronze’s patina would wear thinner. Ever seen an outdoor installed sculpture, and how people often touch it at the same place – such as a monumental piece’s toes. These areas are very often a rich translucent brown colour. When a person touches the bronze, they are doing 2 things. 1) they are removing the patina buildup – the copper carbonates – the green hues that encrust the surface. and 2) they are applying oils by means of the oil secretion from our skin. This coats and protects the bronze, adding the the deep bronze lustre on these high point areas.

Modelling

This is probably one of the most influencal aspects a patina can achieve, apart from the translucency. This of it as how texture can be read. The patineur should add interest in colour, but this needs to be in harmony with the form and texture, not in competition. The form might be very dynamic – with massive highs and lows, hills and valleys. Colour can help read this extreme change in surface. Yet on a finer level, texture can also be diverse, with nooks and crannies of its own. If the patineur is sensitive and attentive to all of this, great things can result.
In all of these bumps and grooves, contrasts can be drawn, helping the viewer to see easier, much like shadows can amplify light. This is a Patineurs paradise when met successfully. Its often that these grooves are darker as opposed to a lighter highpoint, but in the case of Dylan Lewis’ work, a lighter groove and darker highpoint results.
Lets not forget the midrange. This is where the contrasts come together, where they meet and play, where the magic happens and where they decide to draw the juxtaposed boundaries. The process that the patineur employs has much to say. Being in complete control hinders a truly organic result. Chemical interactions transpire a broken yet flowing mesh of boundaries. This is where a fusion of patina techniques can be utilised.

Since 2007, José Ventura has been patineur to Dylan Lewis, Lionel Smit, Beezy Bailey, Toby Megaw, and Theo Megaw, to name a few. He has also restored bronzes by the likes of Anton Van Wouw and Eduardo Villa on behalf of Stephen Weltz & Co and Strauss and Co. As a private patineur, Ventura has patinated for foundries such as Bronze Age, Sculpture Casting Services, Bronz Editions, and smaller foundries around Cape Town. He recently returned from China, where he gave a guest lecture and demonstrations on patination at the China Academy of Art, in Hangzhou, even doing patinas for select artists in China.

year

studio

artist

exhibition

location

catalogue

2007

Janapatina, Stellenbosch,   South Africa

Dylan Lewis

Predators & Prey I

Christies, London, UK

http://www.dylanlewis.co.za/auctions/predatorsI.php, http://www.dylanlewis.co.za/auctions/catalog/predatorsIA.php

2008

Janapatina, Stellenbosch,   South Africa

Dylan Lewis

Predators & Prey I

Stellenbosch – Outdoor Exhibition, South Africa

http://www.dylanlewis.co.za/exh/predators.php

2008

Janapatina, Stellenbosch,   South Africa

Dylan Lewis

Shape Shifting

Rupert Museum, Stellenbosch, South Africa

http://www.dylanlewis.co.za/exh/shapeshifting-stel.php

2009

Janapatina, Stellenbosch,   South Africa

Dylan Lewis

Shape Shifting

Christies, London, UK

http://www.dylanlewis.co.za/exh/shapeshifting-london.php

2009

Janapatina, Stellenbosch,   South Africa

Dylan Lewis

Shape Shifting

Everard Read, Johannesburg, South Africa

http://www.dylanlewis.co.za/exh/shapeshifting-jhb.php

2010

Janapatina, Stellenbosch,   South Africa

Dylan Lewis

Untamed

Kirstenbosch,  Cape Town, South Africa

http://www.dylanlewis.co.za/exh/kirstenbosch.php

2011

Janapatina, Stellenbosch,   South Africa

Dylan Lewis

Predators & Prey II

Christies, London

http://www.dylanlewis.co.za/auctions/predatorsII.php

2011

Smit Street Studios, Strand,            South Africa

Lionel Smit

Surface

Artspace, Johannesburg, South Africa

https://www.lionelsmit.co.za/exhibitions/surface/

2012

Smit Street Studios, Strand,            South Africa

José Ventura

Lionel Smit – collaborated on a piece

34 Fine Art

 

2013

Smit Street Studios, Strand,            South Africa

Lionel Smit

Accumulation

Everard Read, Johannesburg, South Africa

https://www.lionelsmit.co.za/exhibitions/accumulation/

2015

China Academy of Art

China National Art Collection

The Art of Patination

Hangzhou, China

 

2015

Hangzhou Botanical Garden

Lin Gang 林岗

 

Beijing, China

 

2016

Hangzhou Botanical Garden

José Ventura

Body Space, International Group Exhibition

Hangzhou Public Library, China

 

2016

ABC Foundry, Stellenbosch,   South Africa

Dylan Lewis

Dylan’s own Sculpture Garden

Stellenbosch, South Africa

 

2018

Cape Town Studio, South Africa

Dylan Lewis

Recent Busts

Everard Read, Franschoek, South Africa

https://everard-read-franschhoek.co.za/exhibition/18/exhibition_works/540

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