STOCKBRIDGE, MA: Through November 3, Schantz Galleries in Stockbridge presents a stunning collection of Swedish artist Bertil Vallien’s signature sand-cast glass sculptures and installations. The exhibition of unique glass sculptures reveals the artist’s thoughtful exploration of the multi-faceted relationship of the human journey.
Bertil’s work is transcendental in nature — imagined journeys which take us into the realm of the subconscious. His metaphysical Boats transport universal images, and these archetypal symbols speak on a primal level. The results are virtually alchemical transformations, spanning from the primary material of sand, to the ethereal qualities of light transference through glass, to that of metal and stone. He continues to explore the range of possibilities of sandcasting techniques through continuous experimentation while advancing his artistic language.
For this exhibition, this master of duality offers a contra point to his intricate cast pieces with new works called Super Eggs. Vallien says that he sat down with his casting crew one day and said: “no casting today, let’s blow, let’s show what the human breath can do with glass.” The result is the most natural form glass can make, a bubble, expanded to the limits of fragility and lightness.
Bertil Vallien was born in 1938 in a suburb north of Stockholm, where he felt the inclination to be an artist from a very early age. He studied ceramics at the Konstfack School of Arts, Crafts, and Design in Stockholm, then spent two years at the School for Advanced Industrial Design. At Konstfack, he graduated at the top of his class and was awarded a Royal Foundation grant. His love of ceramics took him the Los Angeles for a position with HAL Fromholt Ceramics, and soon he was meeting artists, critics, and gallery owners, attending events at California universities, and exhibiting his ceramics. In 1963, he was invited back to Sweden by the C.H. Åfors glass-factory, where he contributed to a successful reorganization of the company and designed many of their most well-known lines.
Vallien’s introduction to glass offered artistic opportunities that were lacking in ceramics, and blowing glass became central to his work. He has described it as: “ladling matter out of a volcano and watching the glowing lava turn into ice. Knowing the exact moment at which to capture a shift of light or expression and wrench the secret from the glass is what it’s all about.” Vallien combines his creative and industrial training as the foremost artist working in sand-cast glass, an innovative approach to this very classical medium. His work has a symbolic and mystical narrative, in which the human head, boats, maps, stars, crosses, bridges, pyramids, and rings play recurring roles. Sometimes the light-absorbing glass is transparent like a membrane that allows vision into the spaces within. At other times it is translucent to represent how our understanding can at times be dark or clouded. Each Vallien piece tells a unique story.
Exhibition Hours: 10:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., closed on Wednesdays.