Born Wild on the French Ski Slopes

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Richard Orlinski is one of France’s most famous contemporary artists.  I had not heard of him before I saw his works at the Val d’Isere ski resort in the French Alps.

Orlinski mostly works with contemporary materials like resin and aluminium.  He is known for creating works that are Pop Art influenced in industrial materials.  His works reflect the theme of “Born Wild” – looking at concepts of savagery and civilisation.  Born in 1966, he has been a sculptor since 2004.  His pieces are very much marked as “price on application” – if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.  We were told the Val d’Isere pieces run about €150,000.

He has a sculpture reflecting his theme of Born Wild.  This piece shows clearly his love of Pop Art and is an homage to American artist, Robert Indiana, famous for his sculptures of the world “love”.  Indiana had the letter “O” in his love statues tilted to show that love could never be perfect.  I wonder what the tilted O and backward N and D in this piece means.

Born wild
image: Richard Orlinski

There are several works of Orlinski at Val d’Isere that we saw – Wild Kong, Panther and Superman.  Two works, Wild Kong and Panther, are in the mountains.

Our ski instructor told us that he’d seen Panther go up in a ski lift to where it would eventually be placed.  The Panther is sculpted similar to a diamond and the light bounces off the different facets of the carving.  I think the faceting highlights the sleek power of the panther’s muscles really effectively.

Richard Orlinski panther

Wild Kong is, of course, based on the iconic character of King Kong. It’s pretty effective in conveying the born wild concept of the Orlinski – the beast that is capable of love and destruction. My son couldn’t resist mugging with Wild Kong.

Richard Orlinski Wild Kong

I didn’t actually get a photograph of Superman even though I passed it every day.  The sculpture is right at the bottom of the slopes where the ski school classes meet.  Every day I thought I must get a photo and, of course, never got around to it.  Superman was set pointing to the apres ski crowd in the village.  I think he would have been more effective in the mountains like the others.

superman statue
image: Le Dauhine

Orlinski modelled the Superman on Bolshevik art and asks the question what if Superman had landed in the USSR instead of the USA?  The “S” symbol on Superman’s chest is replaced by the Communist symbols of a hammer and sickle.

Say what??!  It might all be a little high-brow for me because frankly Superman is a fictional character.  Superman is also a very American character – friendly, farm boy who goes to the big city and fights for good causes.  There’s not nearly enough angst, family dysfunction, repressed sexuality, hopeless causes and death for it to be Russian.  My husband says this attitude is the American in me speaking.

Orlinski’s works are also on exhibit also at the nearby ski resort of Courcheval, such as this bear.

Orlinski bear
Image from Instagram @RichardOrlinski

Cool isn’t it?

I think it is a fabulous idea bringing art to the French Alps.  I find it amusing thought that both French resorts chosen (Val d’Isere and Courcheval) are known to have well-heeled clients. Art for the masses is good, but art that brings in wealthy clients for the artist is even better.

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