Behind the Scene : Andres Monnier
Image A. Process of sculpting.
P H I L O S O P H Y
Rock is an ancient material. It is impossible for a stone to be created without time, it can take thousands or even millions of years. Rocks keep the secrets of Earth, of what we call life. So, is time a component in rocks, even if it’s not tangible?
To me, rocks are not just composed of minerals and particles, rocks have energy. They hide truths and myths within their textures, shapes, colors and porosity. I like to think that I didn’t choose to work with rocks but rather rocks chose me, and one of the things I value the most is the relation this material has with the measure of motion and time. I often find myself in situations where just by seeing and touching a rock sends me on a profound journey into my own mind. Deep thoughts come to me from understanding that our average lifetime is nothing compared to the process of rock formation and realizing that rocks have been in this universe for millions of years. A contrast between our ephemeral and its perpetual existence.
By manipulating the material through sculpture I’ve learned a lot about my perception of life. Working and unmaking the natural shape of each rock fragment made me realize that there is a parallel process in human transcendence. Just as we must unmake us to build us, I work with the organic shapes to transform them into pieces with a different purpose, an evolving process I like to think.
My work goes beyond creating design with rock and other materials, I perceive my pieces as fragments of a materialized consciousness. Just as people, they are more than just a name and a physical body, they serve a purpose and have a unique and specific design, but they also tell stories in the details through the synergy between art, design and technique.
Just as our perception of reality, a rock can be transformed with the right tools and techniques. As in many handcrafting processes you can synchronize your body and mind to achieve a deeply focused state of mind.
I’ve discovered that in this state I am able to better understand and express my different ways of thinking. Sometimes I feel limited by words, and I find myself comparing the different aspects of my life to the processes of sculpting. Transforming the materials makes me feel like I am molding my mind and changing my own perception of reality. It feels like I am creating a symbolic representation of a technique to change my way of thinking through a new language of creation using a malleable and organic material (Image A).
C R E A T I N G
Inspiration comes to us in a variety of ways, it never leaves, but our awareness to it is constantly opening and closing. My secret to keeping the flame of inspiration alive is being sensitive and aware of my surroundings. I’ve always been very sensitive even as a child, and that sensitivity brought a lot of hurt, I hated that that about myself. Being too sensitive makes life more difficult in this world, but as the years have gone by, I’ve learned that getting hurt is part of the process, it’s part of life. It is now the main reason why I get so deep into every piece I create. I understood that life comes from us, not towards us.
Being focused and logical is critical in my process of creating. From the moment of a pieces’ conception, it is important for me to be involved in each step of the creative and production process; from developing the idea in my head, to designing the body of work, to selecting the right materials and finally crafting it with my own hands.
Describing the genesis of my work is difficult because every process is different. But there are some points in common… If an idea comes to my mind, whether by searching for it or not, I always need to leave a physical register. It can be a simple word or phrase in one of my notebooks or a sketch. I like to draw a lot, even though I’m not very good at it. For every piece that I create there are several pages of drawings developing the body (Image B).
Image B. Sketches.
I find a lot of inspiration in natural processes. My main passion at the moment is working with mirrors and fire, always related to stone (Image C). I work with fire because its existence means more than a chemical process, an element or a source of energy, fire is also a representation of chaos, primitiveness, brightness, of life and death. A personification of alfa and omega, a feeling… Choosing mirrors and materials with reflective properties is not a coincidence. I work with mirrors because every time I look at one, I am reminded that what we see in our reflection is just an illusion. You can’t see and perceive at first instance your whole and true self, instead, there’s a possibility to understand that what we see is just a superficial fragment of ourselves…
Image C. Narciso Mirror and Prometheo Fire Table.
P R O D U C T I O N
After finishing the sketch, I get into action. The sketch is the base idea, the soul of the piece, but it’s almost never an exact representation of the final work. There’s a lot of improvising and experimenting with the material throughout my production process. There’s a lot of flexibility and ambiguity in it. It feels like doing something with your eyes half-closed, clarity seems so indistinct that it leaves a wide space for creativity and imagination in between.
As a self-taught sculptor I constantly find myself in situations where I must push myself past my own limits in order to complete a piece. Trying not to get stuck in the process is tricky but I keep pushing forward to improve my skill and continue learning. It is possible to create any body of work with rocks, as it is with many other natural materials, each one sets their own limits with peculiarities in their chemical and physical structures. Weight I would say is one of the most important ones. It’s challenging to work with and mostly against it, but weight also reminds me of the importance of respecting the material. It’s the weight of years of natural process. It’s the weight of time.
My team and I work with different stones from all over Mexico because each one has a singularity that gives sense to every piece’s purpose. Each approach is different. There’re many techniques to sculpting, from an aggressive intervention with a chisel, to a delicate and smooth approach with sand.
Images D and E. Rock quarrying.
We receive the stone blocks in my studio and then we start to craft the pieces from scratch (Image D and E). Living in a small town as Ensenada is challenging because there’s not a lot of places to find tools and materials to work with stone. That’s why sometimes we need to improvise in our processes of sculpting.
Stone is my signature material but not the only one I work with. There’re plenty of fascinating materials in nature; glass, metal, clay, wood… without these I wouldn’t be able to create my art. Studying and experimenting with other materials is crucial for me to continue working. In this present I’m fully dedicated to create collectible design pieces, but this is just the beginning. I’m really inspired to explore different bodies of work, from installations to paintings.
Images F and G. Crafting and tools.
P U R P O S E
Creating my universe of pieces is my motivation. Each piece must have a multi-sensorial purpose. Hiding secrets in shapes and textures that link each piece to a different collection as an allegory is one of my goals. I want my work to go deeper than just creating and designing a piece with functionality, I want them to make people question “what” and “how” they feel about themselves and their existence in a subtle and almost quiet way. Too evident is wrong, I appreciate secrecy and meaningful details.
Image H. Universe of pieces.