La Polo India magazine: interview with Ninon Art
There is a story for every great starting, what is your story about your fascinations?
I think everyone is born with certain talents and qualities. Sometimes, even when one has great potential, one still needs the right conditions to make it visible. As a child I had the urge to go out into nature, best on horseback in the company of my dog. I used to make 'works of art,' but I didn't know if it was anything special, even though some teachers told me it was.
I had to go a long way to connect with nature and therefore to connect with myself, and this eventually happened when I went on a backpacking journey for one year to South America with my Argentinian friends. We traveled across the land on local buses or we hitchhiked in pick-up trucks. We hardly needed any money, as we crossed jungles, deserts and mountains. We went fishing with local fishermen on small boats and were checked out by humpback whales. We crossed the mountains of the Andes on horseback, and slept under the stars.
Witnessing the endlessly changing landscape and the cycle of the elements confirmed to me what I had always felt; that after all, all is one. After this trip I moved to Spain to have more sunlight. Although I was scared, I then started to make sculptures from clay. Slowly I learned to say that I work as an artist, and slowly I learned to live more according to this 'All is one' vision that I have, which means that there are many ways to connect as much as possible with a source of inspiration, and to create a work of art in many different disciplines.
You tend to correlate nature with your work, which essence of the nature inspired you create such tremendous artworks?
Nothing on this planet exists in a separate way, all living beings are interdependent. The notion of this connecting energy inspires me, this is so great that it is beyond our imagination. I try not to forget this greatness and to emphasize the similar origins and characteristics of different species. As humans, we tend to differentiate in our minds and we usually see the variety and differences, but there are also many common habits and traits in different animals and people.
I also believe one could speak of 'the nature' of a specific animal or person, perhaps it is a combination of the way he / she looks, moves, behaves, feels, his or her innate abilities, inclinations, wisdom, etc. So by nature I mean the connecting energy as a vital force for all life, and the specific innate nature of one being that I try to express when I create a sculpture.
What do you mean, by saying that each sculpture is like a ‘human being’?
Each sculpture is like a 'living being' (not a human being), which means that as I create it, I feel guided by imagining it alive, I imagine a certain pose, a certain emotion that the work has (or might seem to express once it's done). I feel love for it as it begins to take shape, and I literally try to convey this love from my hands into the work.
"The Star" (black)
Well you definitely are a multitalented person, with your nature excursions, learning new languages, being a Tibetan yoga and mindfulness teacher, sports, music and especially art. How do you manage can you brief us about your schedule?
For me many things I do have to do with one another. For example, to be able to create I need a certain openness / sense of connection. I symbolically need an open mind, an open body and an open heart. The more I can open up, the more I can get inspiration and translate it into a work of art.
Yoga, making music, and horse riding all help me to be in better shape for creating works of art. Unfortunately, I'm not a very structured person, so the focus and intensity with which I do one or the other shifts every few months:) It could definitely be organized in a better way!
You are a certified horse riding instructor, well is it just a hobby or you wanted to be a part of so that you can be close to your arts?
I think love for horses is in my blood. That is why I always dreamed of doing something with horses and I only got the chance to follow the training to become a riding instructor quite late in my life. I wanted to do it as a (serious) hobby, it would give me the opportunity to be close to professionals who work with horses, and especially to ride well-trained horses. This certainly influenced my art, as I not only express in the artwork what I see, but also what I feel while riding a horse.
Can you tell us something about your best works, which you believe even came out as an awestruck moment for you?
When I made The Champ, I lived in Spain and it was very difficult to make a living from my art. I thought it would be the last sculpture I would ever make. When I finished the original Champ in clay, I even thought about destroying it again. I decided to cast it in bronze anyway. The Champ became very popular with the public. I didn't really plan what Champ would look like, he somehow shaped himself in the process so I was quite surprised myself how he turned out.
The life-size red Hippo was another successful sculpture I created for several 5-star hotels and private residences around the world. From the first second I only imagined Hippo in one specific way in my head, and my mind refused to think of alternative ways. However, it was very difficult to get it done as I had to research materials and techniques. In the end, I managed to make Hippo exactly the way I wanted it to be. The whole process from the time before Hippo actually existed was a very scary period. It wasn't until I finally did it, and I could see Hippo standing there shining in the sunlight, that I could sigh with relief.
What’s so special about Ibiza?
Ibiza is a Spanish island in the Mediterranean. It has been attracting 'freedom seekers' for years, making the atmosphere generally easy going. There are people of many different nationalities and lifestyles. On the same beach you will find locals, hippies, jet set, movie stars - everyone mingles. I am inspired by the intense color of the blue sky, the bright green palm leaves, the turquoise sea, the sound of crickets and birds, the beautiful horizon where the sea meets the sky.
Tell us something about other hobbies apart from sculpting, what vital role do they play in your career?
Besides sculpting, which is my main profession, I paint and take pictures for my art. Yes, different hobbies play a vital role in my artwork. First, riding horses allows me to really get to know a horse's body, and riding makes me feel good. Dancing, singing and making music with the bands is a hobby that I enjoy, it allows me to interact with other people, which is important because being an artist is quite a lonely job.
Following teachings of Buddhism now and then and practicing Tibetan yoga feels like taking vitamins to me. Sailing and skiing are other hobbies that really connect me with the elements of nature. I think I need these hobbies to keep my mind and energy as open as possible. To see the horizon, waves, trees, sun, moon, it inspires me for art.
I am now working on a book of poems in English that will be published soon. It is all the same to me; connecting with a universal energy, seeing the beauty of the natural world, finding balance between grounding and opening up. I am trying to cultivate living with a sense of love - and express that in every art form.
You believe that every animal has their own uniqueness, if you are asked to create a sculpture for an old age home which animal do you think will suit their entrance?
When I think of elderly people I think of wisdom, slowing down, a tender smile, grace. Therefore, I would either refer to wisdom in a sculpture of a friendly elephant, or I would make people laugh by depicting a fun group of animals playing, such as cute monkeys. It is also possible I would want to refer to fragility and grace, then I would create elegant, curious deer.
Lastly, can you throw some light on your upcoming solo exhibition?
At this time of writing, it is not very clear what will be possible for exhibitions as we do not yet have full control of Corona in Europe. I will try to focus more on online visibility and I hope to be able to say more soon.
Sakshi Sharma | La Polo international 2021