Andrew Benyei - Sculptor and Painter

Creative Process

Like most other artists, I am always aware of my surroundings – and frequently see situations from the perspective of a composition.

However, the main source of inspiration for my situational sculptures is usually related to past or current comments and conversations as they reflect my environment. My sculptured characters and scenarios represent very real situations (within an artistic interpretation); I relate to their roles, personalities and feelings. With their mini-drama composition, my sculptures can be viewed as a “slice in time”.

Because in the past I may have experienced their situations, I have great empathy with my characters; I understand their frustrations and use a variety of methods of expression.

For example, not only their facial expressions and body language, but also their clothing projects an image that always relates to the main message. Frequently I used feet and men’s ties as metaphors for power and/or connectedness.

Commissioned sculptures offer quite different creative challenges. Whether for a corporate or private client, my role is to interpret the client’s thoughts – to listen and understand the ‘situation’ that we want to portray.

For individual and group portraits, I use a series of panoramic photos, plus personal sittings, as a basis – but the end result is more to capture the essence of the individual(s) rather than create a slavish rendition.

The physical part of the creative process begins with a rough sketch, which is quickly translated into a small plasticine maquette. Then I sculpt full-size in clay, and from that, make either a plaster mold for a single issue, or one of flexible rubber for a limited edition series. The final sculptures are cast in fiberglass (with some reinforcement for the larger prices), and then painted in oils.

My bronzes follow a quite different conceptual (and physical) process. These figures focus primarily on motion and movement, and represent my love and delight in the human figure, whether as an athletic dancer or a more Rubenesque bather. I see bronze as an almost liquid, flowing material, and my pieces virtually evolve as I mold the original clay from which the final figures will be cast.

As I have often explained, I sculpt what I feel – and paint what I see.

Most of my paintings are spatial and show vistas of beaches and lakes. Certain elements were inspired by the beaches of Cape Cod, but many represent my sense of the peace and affinity that Canadian lakes reflect to all of us.

My work schedule is unstructured – although I do find my creative juices flow better later in the day. Quite often, I find that I am totally caught up in the developing process, and will work without a break until way past midnight. To maintain a fresh perspective, I work on several pieces (sculpture and paintings) – often as many as ten at one time. And CBC Radio keeps me company; it talks to me without requiring a response.

All this is to explain that I love what I do – and what I create. I can think of no better way to spend the rest of my life.