(Dutch/English, b. 1939)
Signed Maurice Blik
Bronze with a rich brown patina
Height: 21" (53.5 cm)
Conceived and cast 2016
Edition 1 of 9
“…the work is very fluent and dynamic, and at the same time looks effortless, which is something that is actually very, very hard to do, so all those years of hard graft has paid off. A virtuoso performance.”
(Mike Sandle R.A. 2018)
To understand Maurice Blik’s sculpture, one must understand his unique childhood, which set him on his path to becoming an internationally renowned sculptor. A survivor of the Holocaust, he has overcome the traumas of his early life and focused his energy on creating sculptures that evoke movement, freedom and life.
Maurice Blik was born to Jewish parents in Amsterdam in 1939, during the Second World War. In 1943, at the age of four, Blik’s father was sent to Auschwitz, while Blik, his sister and pregnant mother and grandmother were sent to the notorious Bergen Belsen concentration camp. Blik experienced a lifetime of unimaginable tragedy and horrors until being liberated with his mother and oldest sister in 1945 by the Cossacks.
Blik lost both his father, infant sister, grandmother and numerous close relatives to the concentration camps. The resounding effect of such tragedy at a young age has not been lost on the sculptor. Yet it’s this pain and torment that has helped grow Blik’s innate need to recreate life in his materials.
After their liberation, Blik and his mother and sister moved to England, where Blik’s gifts for academics and a desire to save lives pushed him towards medicine. Yet instead, Blik enrolled in art school, studying at Hornsey College of Art (National Diploma in Sculpture) and the University of Miami.
In 1969, Blik earned his Art Teacher’s Certificate at the University of London. At this point, he had stopped creating his own artwork, but was a highly regarded art teacher at various institutions across the United Kingdom.
In the 1980s, Blik began experimenting with clay, subsequently rediscovering his passion and talent for the medium of sculpture. Sculpture began to slowly materialize itself in Blik’s life as a form of therapy and the expression of sub-conscious discourse with his daily life and past memories.
Blik’s first commission as a sculptor didn’t come until his 40s after a somewhat serendipitous meeting with a client of his first wife. This series of bronze horse heads marked the beginning of his figurative career. The inspiration for these works emerged naturally, surprising even Blik himself. He would later realize that the sculpting of the horses was a sub-conscious processing of his liberation by the Cossacks in 1945.
Maurice Blik, Many Summers, Bronze
His first exhibition came shortly after in 1985, a solo display at Alwin Gallery in London. In 1991, Blik gave up teaching to focus solely on his work as a sculptor. Blik embraced this change in life direction with confidence and passion. The artist learnt to draw and even sculpt with his left hand after learning that it had been his dominant hand as a child. Blik’s new-found ambidexterity accentuated his creativity and aptitude with sculpture.
During the 40 years since Blik’s first commission, his sculptures have continued to earn him national and international acclaim. He has become one of the world’s most thought-provoking sculptors, renowned for inciting passion and serenity with work that is personal, honest and intense.
Blik’s most recent work is very much focused on life and the act of living. He has opted to move away from his hugely successful figurative sculptures, as he felt that they conjured up too many memories of the past. Instead Blik is drawing upon the “activity of life” with his latest series of plaster and bronze maquettes engaged in various actions, such as Striding, Dancing, Sitting and Listening.
Maurice Blik, Striding, Bronze
His technique has also advanced from the more conventional style of sculpting – creating mental images by building up the clay and casting it. His new method involves reaching into a mass of clay and visualizing the figure he wants to create as he hollows out certain areas, creating a dynamic and complex negative form. He then pours plaster into the mould and the negative space becomes the positive model. Using this unseen method, he creates diverse beings and gives us the impression of movement, humanity and life, but not of the naturalistic human form.
“One day, by chance, I discovered that by excavating the clay and then casting the space within in plaster I could get forms that were fresh and surprising.” Blik explained to The London List. “Modelling the clay with my imagination as my only reference left me free to create sculpture as a direct expression of my internal imagery. I can then work on these plaster pieces to achieve the final result, whilst retaining the dynamic and exciting original. They can then be cast in bronze, still figurative, but even more expressive and evocative.”
Blik’s sculptures are born entirely of his imagination. There is no armature or drawings; just a feeling of what he wants to create. Once the figures emerge, they are full of energy and emotion. They are barely figurative but evoke a definite feeling of the human spirit. They have been given the gift of life and energy. They may dance, they may listen or they may wait. Whatever the case, they are alive. And that, it would seem, has always been the purpose of Blik’s work.
Maurice Blik exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition four times between 1991 and 1998, before holding solo exhibitions at Blain’s Fine Art, London, in 1999 and at The Royal British Society of Sculptors, London, in 2008. He also undertook numerous public and private commissions during this time, including Renaissance (1995) at London’s East India Dock and Splish Splash (2005) at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, USA. However, Blik’s status as one of art history’s most prominent sculptors was cemented in 1996, when he was elected President of the Royal British Society of Sculptors, shortly before becoming a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1997.
His most recent commission, For the Love of Cyprus (2017) is a 6.5-metre-high bronze panel inspired by Rodin’s Gates of Hell. Blik completed the giant sculpture in only 12 months, showcasing his remarkable productivity and fervour.
Maurice Blik works in the UK and USA, where he was awarded residency by the US Government in 1992 as ‘a person of extraordinary artistic ability’. His artworks are part of important private collections around the world, including Behold (2000) at Middlesex University, UK; Second Breath (2011) in Chandler Hospital, University of Kentucky, USA; and Every Which Way (2017) at the National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire, UK.
Blik has been represented by Bowman Sculpture since 2008. His works have appeared at numerous major art fairs and solo and group exhibitions around the world, including The British Art Fair at Saatchi Gallery, London, UK; Art Miami, Miami, USA; Fine Art Asia, Hong Kong; Sculpt Gallery, London, UK; Masterpiece, London, UK; Hannah Peschar Sculpture Park, Surrey, UK; Pier Walk Sculpture, Chicago, USA; and Museum Masters Collection, New York, USA.