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Many customers commission us to create a custom bronze bust in order to commemorate loved ones with a unique sculpture.
Various companies and associations wish to pay homage to the memory of their founders, presidents, leaders or other important figures with personalized memorial statues.
In fact, few things in the world can convey authority and an established history like a bronze bust in the atrium of the company, inside an important room or, better still, a custom life-size bronze sculpture outdoors in the garden or in the entrance area.
It is a unique thought, a precious gift whose memory lasts over the centuries.
A custom made bronze statue can also be an important wonderful item of celebratory furnishings for schools, churches, squares, gardens and public buildings.
In this regard, here are some examples of custom bust sculpture that we made in the Vittorio Tessaro art studio.
“I was commissioned to create the portrait of the great Aikido Master Hirokazu Kobayashi by Master Andrè Cognard in 2018, and it was inaugurated at the Aikido Academy in Bourg-Argental in France to commemorate 20 years of his death.
The making of this bronze bust was not easy at all, considering the poor photographic material.
The photos did not match with each other, as they were taken with different expressions as well as in the various phases of the Master’s life, and also many were taken from afar.
I’m used to making custom sculptures from photo, but in this case I had to spend a lot of time to be able to make the portrait because of these poor quality images, which made the job very difficult.
For this reason, when I sent the photos of the portrait I was creating to Maestro Andrè Cognard, I was afraid that something was wrong, but with great relief he answered that by looking at the photos of the portrait he seemed to have him alive in front of him. He was struck by the gaze, he said, which was alive and present.
When I am commissioned to make a custom bust sculpture and the moment of bronze casting arrives (which is strictly done with the “lost wax” bronze casting technique), my experience has taught me to use a partner foundry that is recognised as one of the best three foundries in the world. It is the only one that gives me the absolute guarantee that the work will be carried out with the utmost care and precision, and that the bronze does not reveal any irremediable defects over the years, such as the aesthetically ugly flaw typical of cheaper bronze sculptures.
In a nutshell, the work must be done “up to standard”.
In fact, too many bronze statues seen around are unfortunately saturated with inappropriate welds that emerge over the years, with the excuse of saving on the cost of casting, together with plastering flaws caused by a bad and hasty procedure that involves the transition from clay to bronze.
I always oversee every smallest phase of the transformation, both as regards the wax phase, which is crucial for the success of the work, and that of the bronze chiselling, up to the last part, the coating.
The only casting process that guarantees both the production and the duration of a work over time is that of the artists and artisans of ancient Greece, namely so-called ” lost wax bronze casting” (Please note: this is the same ancient technique used to make the “Riace Bronzes”!).
But returning to the delivery of the commemorative custom bust sculpture I was commissioned to make of the great Master – who is is a true icon for all Aikido practitioners around the world – I like to remember the three days dedicated to him, involving practice in the Dojo, celebration, meditation and prayer.
The three wonderful and unforgettable days were imbued with magic and positive energy at the Academy of Borg-Argental, a Japanese-style wooden building located in the middle of two thunderous streams that lined the place of worship and practice of Aikido, outlining a large green triangle of lawn, cultivated in perfect Japanese style.
The first evening I was a guest of Master Andrè Cognard at a dinner with the family and close collaborators of the great Sensei Hirokazu Kobayashi, to whom my custom bronze bust sculpture was dedicated: his daughters, grandchildren and the two Sensei technical heads of Aikido from the north and south of Japan, Hirotoshi Yabuuchi and Jiro Kimura.
The next day, after training we went to visit the city and in the evening, outside the academy, there was a great show with fireworks.
The extraordinary thing about it was that the fireworks were programmed to go off in time with the music. I especially remember “Sakura” and “the Aikido song.”
It was of such singular suggestiveness that explaining what happened that evening in words does not arouse the same emotions I experienced.
Usako, one of the great Sensei’s daughters, approached me, took my arm and we watched the whole programme together to the end.
On that enchanted night, something happened that surprised me and moved me, and even now when I can’t help thinking about it without falling into a deep and ecstatic reflection.
Suddenly, a very thin drizzle began to descend, arriving at just the right time and being so discreet that it seemed an integral part of the programme.
It was a rain that, at least apparently, did not get us wet. It enveloped us and made us feel good.
Immediately, I felt Usako grip me tighter, and pointing to the sky with a finger, evidently moved, she whispered in my ear:
“Look Vittorio! My father has been moved to tears. He is looking at us from up there. He is here with us at his party.”
And while I felt even more honoured to have been chosen to create the custom bronze memorial statue of the great Aikido master, the evening ended with a grand gala where, during the dinner, videos of the countless stages of Sensei Kobayashi were screened, enriched by songs and dances.
The next morning, the third and last day, which fell on Sunday, we all found ourselves outside the temple dedicated to the practice of Aikido for the procession rites in honour of Sensei Kobayashi.
At the beginning of the line there were some girls dressed for the occasion in characteristic traditional Japanese clothes to represent geisha. With baskets in hand, they scattered yellow rose petals, the Master’s favourite colour.
It is useless to try to explain the evocativeness of the ceremony, and of walking on a yellow path covered entirely with petals.
When we reached the KAMI (sacred place of prayer), which was on the right of the academy, we took our places in a circle and paid our respects.
After the ceremony we entered the Dojo, where everyone, dressed in kimonos, placed themselves in a rigorous seiza position on the tatami (kneeling on the mat in a martial position, motionless with their torso erect).
At a certain moment, a boy and a girl, also in kimonos, approached the Kami where the bronze bust of the Master was resting. It had not yet been revealed, but remained there, covered by a cloth for the entire time of the stage.
The two youths took the edges and slipped the sheet away, each backing away to the opposite side, never turning their backs as a sign of respect, thus finally uncovering the much coveted bronze portrait of Sensei Hirokazu Kobayashi.
At that point, it would be natural to think that a resounding roar of amazement and wonder coming from the approximately 300 people present would rise to fill the large room that hosted them. Instead, in an austere silence that I knew well, all of them leaned forward in unison to celebrate what was to be, from then on, the monument of the Aikido Academy of Bourg-Argental.
Immediately after, master Andrè Cognard beckoned me to join him near the kami where he introduced me as the custom statue maker who created the bronze bust in question, given that in the two previous days nothing had been said and I had remained an unknown factor for everyone except the family and masters.
When the ceremony was over and after having collected all the compliments for the creation of the custom bronze bust sculpture, we set out for home, bringing with us the memory of unforgettable moments, which are sometimes beautiful to recount to friends who share the same passion for Aikido.
The three dream days were over, but my greatest passion was not, the one in which I most recognise myself and the one without which I could no longer live: love for art and bronze sculpture.
Here is another custom-made bronze bust, mainly based on old black and white photographs.
Also in this case the photographic material received (which can be seen in the background of the images of the portrait being worked in clay) was not of the best quality to be able to guarantee faithful realism in the personalized memorial statue in relation to the original subject.
But again, after having made the bust in clay and at the time of showing it to the family members who had commissioned the work, we were pleasantly gratified not only by their almost immediate confirmation of the custom bust that was then due to pass from clay to bronze casting, but above all for the emotion with which they gave us this confirmation, as if they were really experiencing an exciting moment in the company of their loved one.
This bronze bust sculpture was to be placed in a context that required a certain sobriety, as can also be seen from the colours and the final aesthetic effect of the coating.
In reality, with special coatings and superficial oxidations, it is possible to give the bronze any colour so we can make our custom bronze bust even more realistic, just like in the following example…
Here is another custom bronze bust created as personalized memorial statue for Mr J. K, a public figure in the state of Lebanon, who is well known in the countries of the Middle East.
We remember this work of custom made bronze statue well, as at the beginning the clients had doubts (which is absolutely understandable, especially when working at a distance) about the realism of the bronze bust that they wanted, but then when they saw the finished work first hand… all doubts were swept away.
Perhaps with the “pretext” of these perplexities, the clients wanted to come and take a holiday in Italy for several days, partly to be able to personally see and collect the completed custom bust. When they saw it in person… well, we still remember their emotion now, the glances back and forward between them and with “Mr J.K.”. Judging from the reactions of his acquaintances it was as if he were there, among us.
In fact it was especially the eyes of the custom bronze bust that captured the attention of the clients. According to them, they were rich in realism and had a wealth of details there were so faithful they made the sculpture come to life.
…These are precisely the emotions we love to be able to generate in people who ask us for a bronze bust for their special occasions… and these are the emotions that we will be happy to bring to you too!
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