“Flight”, “Escape”, “Clouds” … As he looks over the works he’s produced since early 2020, it dawns on Farid Achezegag that the pandemic has indeed been there all this time, in his workshop, in his mind, in his hands.
His work evolved suddenly, moving away from the strong, firmly anchored figures he was known for, towards suspension, clouds, light, flight … a narrative thread telling tales of escape, of the impossible come true.
It is only now that he sees that the change corresponds to the start of the crushing darkening of the first lockdown here in south-west France. Farid Achezegag, the sculptor but also the father, the husband, felt that he had almost floated through the turbulence and the anguish of those first months of Covid-19. Acutely aware of his privilege, safe in his own home, he’d nevertheless savoured the slowing of time, precious moments with his daughter, long dinners with his wife in their garden as night fell over the rolling countryside beyond the church nextdoor; and the luxury of hour after hour, free to create in his workshop, when pre-lockdown life had him catching the train to and from the busy nearby city of Toulouse to his ‘day job’ building scenery for the renowned local opera house and theatre.
If he did indeed float, it was doubtless borne up above the darkness of the times by his own new sculptures, despite himself… Perhaps he took ‘flight’, ‘escaped’ …
“It’s all giving you away. Everything you do shows your hand. Everything is a self portrait. Everything is a diary.” So says Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club.
Is this true of Farid Achezegag, sculptor, artist but also boxer and saxophonist? When he practices Thai boxing, is each punch, each kick, drawing a self portrait? Maybe… As a young man surfacing from a lost, abusive childhood, it was boxing that taught him to breathe, to stand tall; then boxing that taught him to move his own limbs like the comic book heroes he drew, obsessively.
And the saxophone? More breath, a different strength, another freedom. An extension of the body, reclaiming a space in the world…
And in the anchored figures he sculpts from found stones and worked steel, the themes of that portrait take on volume. Are the heavy stones burdens from a damaged youth? Here they become muscles, powering forth mythical figures, elegant, delicate and anchored. Centaur, Minotaur… And this, a figure with desperate strength bursting through a fortress wall? Or a dancer, making light of a rock tutu?
Farid Achezegag’s sculptures work with the viewer to tell tales, tales of the man whose hands and heart brought them into the world, no doubt, but tales that are universal, like the almost cubic hieratic head, a recurrent motif that allows us to see ourselves if we so wish.
With exhibitions from Nicosia to Brussels, sculptures and drawings now inhabiting private homes and public spaces from Bangkok to Miami, on the cusp of his next half century, the lost boy scraping a life in the stairwells and disused cars of failed public housing projects on the grubby outskirts of Paris has sculpted himself a life of art and inspiration.
On December 2021, three of Farid Achezegag’s works will be auctioned by VenoArt, with a portion of the proceeds going to support children, children who Farid hopes will go on to joyously sculpt their own lives.
Written by Vanessa C. Stone