The passions of Michael Levy

by Michel Prigent

Editorial published in The Republic (French journal)

March the 27th, 2006

 

The sculptor Michael Levy, the author of Héloïse and Abélard (the monumental statues of the media library at Melun (France)), exposes into the Saint Jean Space of the city (Open Space dedicated to Exhibitions). Inspired by the Middle East, where he lived, by the Bible which is in his culture, and marked by the medicine, which he abandoned for the art, this man delivers us a bubbling spirit and a lesson of humanity.

The last Michael Levy’s exhibition held in the Saint Jean Space in 1993. Since, his sculptures made a world tour, via London, Washington and Italy. Then, during 2004, we spoke a lot about the artist at Melun, during the inauguration of the media library. This was for a very good reason, as two big bronze sculptures welcome the visitors: Héloïse and Abélard.

Michael Levy, as all the famous sculptors, likes wide spaces and impressive volumes. A monumental sculpture does not frighten him. As proof, his workshops are in the cutting of his artworks, so allowing him to be able to express himself through the everyday life in his countryside.

These sculptures, in their context, in the very place of their creation, are even better read. Michael Levy’s workshop is as a theatre within which an opera builds up itself and blooms. The sculptor is the conductor, he works out his own partition, surrounded with his sketches, rough draughts, raw or baked clays. There he is well-advised.  Maybe he remembers from Algiers (North Africa) his own passion going back up to his childhood, always making objects. Moreover this lead him to the sculpture by arriving to Paris!  Then there is his curiosity for the living creatures, the small animals. Lizards, grasshoppers, insects, over which he goes into raptures, in Algeria in his teens.

But this observation is not lost, this lead him to the second passion of his life: the medicine. Moreover, at 26 years old, he told himself that he must succeed in a high school diploma. Then he entered the Faculty of Medicine, following evening classes.  So arrived the synthesis of his two courtships: he became a specialist in joint therapy at the Limeil-Brévannes City Hospital in the geriatrics department. There he realized the suffering of the mankind and there he met with the distress.

 

He discovered as well that patients who began creating found their dignity and their identity.  “They discovered that they knew how to make something again and again. And they even continued to live for the group through their works, while they die”.   The experience is strong. So strong that the choice is made forever. Michael Levy will not be a physician anymore. By the sculpture he will look after someone, but only through the spirit. Then he gave up with his projects of plastic surgery. A real grief indeed for this tender heart!

Sensible that’s for sure. Perhaps even a flayed body in some cases. And so some of his sculptured characters are represented.

“It is to penetrate better their internal world”, he asserts, in showing one of his contorted and suffering dwarfs, carrying symbolically all the weight of the poor human condition. The skin is removed from dwarfs, so finally the character comes up into full light.

The veils, he not does not either need to allow to stay dreaming in front of his academies. Perfect nudes with which he took some distance, in order not to fall in an aestheticism which would be only an artist’s weakness.

The new way taken by Michael Levy is far more audacious.  With huge hens pulled by dwarfs, he throws us to our face that we lost the sense of the sacred. We also forgot that these animals, on the basis of the biggest consumption of proteins for mankind, were also living animals. Then, Michael Levy wants to make our eyes opened on to the world which surrounds us. Would not the human become a dwarf, living through the forgetfulness of his own marks?

But there is also hope, and children inspire henceforth the sculptor. In a remarkable and powerful artwork, the children of the Shoah (catastrophe), and his own children too, show him to the everyday life that life is born in the sharing of something out.  Then Michael Levy, who distrusts all the more reason of the aestheticism for the aestheticism, brought up the reflection to the same level as his inspiration, the whole served today by a technique become magnificently evident. You should admire the result!

Open Space Saint Jean March 25th , June 3rd, 2006