The interview of Guillermo Forchino




by Chris

Translated in English by Chris (sorry for the bad English !)

Discussion in the Objectible forum...

I saw the reproductions of Guillermo Forchino for the first time in the forum of Objectible. Immediately, I was delighted ! none of his pieces comes from comic strips, but some of them are so close, with his style so caricatural and so humoristic ! it is the reason why, some months ago, I decided to create a special section dedicated to this artist in Objectible, for my pleasure and to share my enthusiasm with more people. It is the realization of this section that allows me to know Guillermo himself, his kindness and his generosity. It was a pleasure for me to continue with this interview. Thank you very much Guillermo !

NB : you can click on some pictures to get a zoom...

Your history...

Chris for How and when did you decide to dedicate your professional life to sculpture ?

Guillermo Forchino - In fact, I have never decided to « dedicate » my life to sculpture. It is a thing that comes to me slowly. I have always been interested by modelling. When I was a child, I liked to make all kinds of small creatures with breadcrumbs or any materials. Later, after the « baccalaureat » and one year of hesitation, I began the school of « Bellas Artes » of Rosario in Argentina. Once my studies finished, during the two or three first years, I have only painted but, little by little, I have been interested by volumes and shapes. And now, for a score of years, I make almost only sculpture.

Chris for You come from Argentina, why did you do a part of your studies at the Sorbonne University of Paris ?

Guillermo Forchino - At the beginning of the 80's, it was a long time since the policy and the economy were in a very bad way in Argentina and, since my wife likes France et wanted to continue her studies in Paris, I asked for a grant to study the art of restoration at the Sorbonne University. I was very interested by this profession and because it allows me to earn my living with a job in the domain of Art.

Chris for Now you live in Paris. Why this choice ?

Guillermo Forchino - When we went back in Argentina after our studies in Paris, even if I found immediately a position of restorer in the Museum of « Bellas Artes » of Rosario, my wages were just enough to pay the rent, and our first child was just born. We are preoccupied by our future.

As my family is of Italian extraction, I have the two nationalities. This enabled me to reside in Europe without too many problems. In addition, we had friends in Paris who could lend a small studio to us. We thus decided to come to France while knowing that here I had more possibilities of working in restoration without giving up the sculpture.

Panoramic view of the workshop.

Chris for Do you often travel ?

Guillermo Forchino - A score of years ago, when we were students, we travelled a lot everywhere in Europe. Since we live in France, once a year, we return in Rosario to see the friends, the family, to eat "asados", to feel the odors, the noises, to observe the chaotic traffic, the slangings between the motorists, the long discussions of friends around a table of coffee and this way of « charging the batteries ». Besides this great annual trip, lately I went to China twice for my work and I could know marvellous things.

Chris for Do you remember your first realizations ?

Guillermo Forchino - Besides the first small « beasts » made of breadcrumb that I already talked about, I liked to carve in pieces of soap, it was so easy ! I also remember to have made a hand with adhesive paper ribbon, I was astonished myself by the result.

In fact, I believe that I always liked to model with any kind of materials. But the first realization in my current style that I remember, it is a head of approximately 40 cm which I cut in a plaster block at the the school of « Bellas Artes ». It had its large hand on the head, its mouth widely open sticking its tongue out, with a funny grimace.

Chris for In 1985, you exposed on the topic of the psychiatric hospitals and the geriatric homes. How did this idea come to you ?

Guillermo Forchino - In 1984, after my studies in Paris, I was back in Argentina. The artists Ruben Porta, who was my professor in the faculty of Rosario, and Marcelo Castaño, a friend colleague of « Bellas Artes », talked to me about a project of work about psychiatric hospitals. It is on this occasion that I started to interest me in this very singular world of the mental patients and the geriatric homes.

On several occasions, we went to visit the lunatic asylums of our area. We started to reading books which spoke about the subject, for instances, « Histoire de la folie » by Foucault, « L’éloge de la folie » by Erasme and especially « Concierto para instrumentos desafinados » by the Spanish Vallejo Nagera who spoke about the psychiatric hospitals during the Fifties at the time of Franco.

Each one of us worked hard on the subject and, in September 1985, we undertook an exhibition together.

Personally, I created sculptures whose bodies were made with rolled strips in rags and the heads and the hands with papier-mâché coloured and soaked afterwards in wax.

Since, we have never stopped interesting us and working on this subject. Our last exhibition together was done in Buenos Aires in 2001...

Chris for At the end of the Eighties, you start to create your famous sculptures representing strange, satyric and caricatural scenes, with your personal style rather close to the comic strip. What represented the first scene you created and what was the catch which pushed you in this way ?

Guillermo Forchino - In 86, back in Paris, my family and me lived in a very small one-roomed flat of 17 m2 and, as I did not have a workshop, I had to make pieces having small sizes. Thanks to the papier-mâché mixed with flour, I could obtain a very suitable paste to make the expressions that I wanted to give to my figures. At that time, I modelled a lot of heads and I put them in small pots out of glass which I was going to sell at the flea market of Vanves. That was a success and somebody suggested me going to the the « salon des Ateliers d’art ».

The following year, I exposed in this exhibition. Fortunately, I had already found a workshop and I could make larger pieces.

Among the artists whom I admire, Jérôme Bosch always allured me by the expressivity of his faces. In remembrance of his picture « La nef de fous », I wanted to make « vats » with lunatic people. Initially, I started with figures in bath-tubs transformed into boats, then helicopters, submarines and afterwards, the remainder came easily.

Even if my sculptures do not come directly from comic strips, it is true that my style is rather close to the comic strip.

When I was child, my father read me Prince Vaillant drawn by Harold Foster, Mandrake and the Phantom by Lee Falk and he showed me also the marvellous illustrations of Norman Rockwell and Molina Campos which marked me a lot. During my adolescence, the comic strips were very popular in Argentina. There were all kinds of American reviews but also a very important national production. At this time, as there were not a lot of people who had television, young people read a lot of comics. Among the artists whom I admired more, the incomparable Alberto Breccia was the Master.

The expression and the graphics of all these drawings have, in an undeniable way, enormously impregnated my spirit.

Your work…

Chris for How do you have the idea of caricaturing a particular scene ? is it generally an order of a collector or just a personal desire ?

Guillermo Forchino - Sometimes I have special orders. But all my sculptures come from a personal idea. I have the head full with figures and machines which I would like to make, but each piece requires a lot of time and I have a delay of a few years between the ideas and their realization.

Chris for Once that the topic was chosen, how do you begin the sculpture ? you make a drawing, you use photographs... or only your imagination ?

Guillermo Forchino - As soon as I have an idea, I make drafts, especially not to lose the image which came to my head.

Generally, the starting concept is rather different from the finished sculpture. I start with a rather vague idea which I draw or I take again one of my old sketches.

But, of course, I document myself with photographs when it is a question of doing something close to the reality, a determined car, specific clothes, etc

Chris for Which materials do you use generally ?

Guillermo Forchino - To create my sculptures, I work with rather heteroclite materials. I model the heads either with papier-mâché, or in Cernit. For the bodies, I can use a Bi-component epoxy paste of Axson, plasteline or clay, that depends on what I want to obtain because each material has its specific qualities.

I employ also a lot of other elements, fabrics, wire of iron, sheet of metal, etc, etc.

For the copies, I make them in various polyurethane resins.

Chris for Could you tell us more about the different steps of a realization ?

Guillermo Forchino - Since I have a larger workshop, and more disorder besides, I could make larger pieces.

Each sculpture is the result of an assembly of several parts which are made separately, the body of the vehicle, the wheels, the frame, the bodies of the figures, the heads, the arms, etc. Each one requires a separate moulding.

For example, to make a vehicle, I can proceed in various ways, either to cut a block of extruded polystyrene directly, or to work with a chalk cement on a form in foam initially cut or to model it directly with clay.

In this last case, I have to make a preliminary plaster moulding to make an intermediate copy made of resin.

From this intermediate copy, I work over again the completions before passing to the final silicone moulding.

Afterwards, I make the copies of each part out of polyurethane resin.

Then comes the work of stripping, cementing, sandpapering, the underlayer of finish and the painting of the figures, followed by the polishing. I paint the figures with acrylic...

... and I finish by the assembly of the different parts.

Chris for Except the reproductions in reduction about which we will speak later, do you realize several specimens of each one of your creations ?

Guillermo Forchino - Yes, I make several copies of each piece. That can vary between three or four to about thirty specimens for each sculpture.

Chris for You also created some low-reliefs like the mural which represents an urban traffic jam for the collection Remolins Zamora in Andorra or the scene of the bar. Did you make other realizations in this kind ?

Guillermo Forchino - Not so much ! I made only the kitchen of a restaurant, two bars, a scene of tennis and a butchery. All in small size, approximately 80 x 50 cm and another much larger « Escaldes Centre » which represents a traffic jam and measures approximately 2.50 x 3.00 m.

Chris for The mural representing the traffic jam may have required a considerable work. How long do you spend on this realization ? Is it currently exposed in a place open to the public ?

Guillermo Forchino - No, unfortunately it is not exposed to the public. It is in a private collection in Andorra in the mountains, in a very beautiful place.

The realization and the assembly took more than three months but I was helped by three friends artists during all the process : modelling, moulding, copy out of resin and painting. Modelling was made out of clay on a metal netting and we used 600 kilos of clay and several plaster bags to make the mould. The weight was thus considerable. Using hoists, we could turn over the unit to empty the clay and to be able to full it with the resin. Afterwards, it was necessary to break the plaster to find the final piece. There was then a long work of cleaning and to finish painting. Even if that were not always easy, that were a very good experiment.

Chris for Is there one of your realizations that you like particularly or, on the contrary, one that you wish to forget ?

Guillermo Forchino - Certainly ! there is a lot but I do not remember any more since I already forgot them !!! Let us speak seriously : in general the sculpture that I prefer is, always, that on which I am working.

There is, perhaps, some which I prefer than the others such as, for example, « the Taxi » or « the Family ».

In general, when I look at a sculpture made a few years ago, I always want to add or change something. It is the reason why, when I make several copies of the same piece, they are never identical.

Chris for On which sculpture are you working now ?

Guillermo Forchino - Currently, I work on a Porsche, but I am always on two or three concepts at the same time.

Chris for And your projects ?

Guillermo Forchino - I do not like to speak about my projects, because, even if I have eight or ten ideas which turn in this moment in my head, it is not sure that I realize them. A new piece takes forty days at least while the ideas go more quickly. Often an idea drives out the other.

Chris for Some people compare your style with the style of Reiser. Does that inspire a reflexion to you ?

Guillermo Forchino - I am very flattered because Reiser is somebody that I really admire. I think that it is especially the spirit of its drawings which can have an affinity with my realizations. I remember, in the Eighties, the first time that I saw one of his comic strip, it was « Le gros dégueulasse », I was fascinated. Unfortunately it left us very early. For me, he was extraordinary.

The reproductions...

Chris for Since 2003, some of your realizations are reproduced in reduction, in the collection « The Comic Art of Guillermo Forchino », and are distributed in a lot of countries. How did you make this decision ? it was easy ?

Reproductions in China

Guillermo Forchino - No, it was not easy to decide. Previously, I had already had proposals to reproduce my sculptures (there were even counterfeits) but the quality of the reproductions was far from being acceptable. When the company Vrisekoop M&M contacted me, I remained skeptic. Vis-à-vis with my reserve, they proposed to me to carry out a test. We started with my bumper cars which they reproduced to 50% and to 25% of the real size. The exceptional result convinced me and we started to work together.

Chris for This collection has a great success and goes, in my opinion, to contribute to increase your fame. How do you feel this success ? you expected it ?

Guillermo Forchino - Not all, but let us be honest, I will not play the false modesty, even if the collection starts to have success, it is not so large ! Perhaps in a few years... we will see.

Chris for Do you know how the reproduction is done technically?

Guillermo Forchino - Yes. Initially, I send the originals of my sculptures to the factory, which is in China, in two versions, one finished and another all dismounted to facilitate the work of copy. In the second time, Chinese artists, really very gifted, make the counterparts at 50% of the original size. It is incredible the ability that they have to copy a volume with a reduced size. It is a thing which still surprise me. In this first phase, they exclusively work with a modelling clay, mixture of wax and clay. This material is very hard at ambient temperature, but it can be softened with the heat of a hair drier and thus it becomes very malleable.

As work advances, they send the photographs by email to me, this enables me to control work and to indicate the modifications to be made.

Then they make provisional silicone moulds to make some first specimens on which all the fittings of color are done.

It is at this time that I go to China for the final checking. After my final agreement, the production starts.

Precisely, I go to China next week to finish the new collection which will be commercialized in september.

Chris for According to « newsprint » being used as packing with your reproductions, an article tells that you visited the Chinese factory responsible for the reproductions. Which memory do you keep from this visit ? did you appreciate their work ?

Guillermo Forchino - Yes, it is a big company which made quality a priority because they knew very well that the Chinese products did not have a very good reputation on this aspect.

This company gives a high importance to materials and the completion of the products.

This trip was a great experiment for me. I was mainly in liaison with the sculpture department where only about thirty artists work, recruited among the best ones.

They make all the prototypes which will be reproduced per thousands of specimens in the different departments of the company.

The communication with the sculptors is not obvious, they speak only Chinese. Fortunately for me, I had a translator, but in spite of the problems of language, we always manage to communicate, the Chinese people are very accessible and they have a great sense of humour.

I also benefitted from this journey to make some trips as a tourist. I went to Peijing where I discovered an astonishing city.

But what impressed me the most was the army of terra cotta soldiers which are at the town of Xian. It is the Qin emperor, into 210 before our era, who made model more than seven thousand warriors in natural size, to be buried with. Amazing !

Chris for The history does not say how much there were sculptors for this work ! To return to your reproductions, how many pieces do you plan to reproduct in the next years ?

Guillermo Forchino - For the moment, we think to make at the maximum three or four pieces per year. But each piece can be carried out in various sizes. Either with the same dimension than the original, or to 50% or even in certain cases with 25%.

Chris for Can you tell us which will be the next reproductions ?

Guillermo Forchino - We have planned to make the truck of firemen which will be reproduced in two dimensions, directly at the original size (80 cm length), with 1000 specimens, and another to 50% of the original size. The biker on his Harley and the convertible « Promenade de dimanche » are also envisaged, only at 50%.

The Objectible site...

Chris for Did you visit the page which is devoted to you on the Objectible site ?

Guillermo Forchino - Yes, of course ! I am very pleased that you noticed my work although I do not make realization from comic strip. I think that your site is very interesting and, thanks to him, I discovered excellent creators in a field which I did not know very well.

Chris for As you already did in the past, would you agree to regularly send photographs of your realizations to us so that we diffused them for the greatest joy of your fans ?

Guillermo Forchino - No problem ! but for the next one, you must wait during several months...


Chris for Except sculpture, do you have other passions ? any favorite leisures ?...

Guillermo Forchino - If you want to know the things that I like, there is a lot like travelling, going to the cinema, reading, eating, the friends, the good wine, etc etc but I have only one passion, the sculpture.

Chris for Thank you very much, Guillermo, for having spend time with this interview.


Dedication og Guillermo Forchino for