Vivianne Duchini – An Adventurous Sculptor from Argentina

A few weeks earlier my kids and I were taking a chilled walk after nursery in our area when we bumped into two chic though seemingly truly lost foreign ladies. They approached us and were enquiring about the closest food shop while quickly sharing their purpose of being here. I thought it was really fascinating so we agreed on a late breakfast a few days later and here is this inspiring art story from the other side of the world.

So Vivianne, what brought you here from so far away, from Argentina?

I can not even believe myself that I am here!  Hungary is really very far away from my home. I am 56 years old and I have never ever been away from my family for such a long period of time especially for work purpose and in a foreign country! I am honestly so scared but very excited about this whole experience!

I won a project that I applied to back in Argentina. I was chosen out of 8 artists to make a sculpture of János Czetz (1822-1904), an outstanding Hungarian military commander who married an Argentinean lady. He is very well known in my country for the organisation of its very first national military academy (Colegio Militar), and his contribution of the final drawing of the Argentine map as it is today. There he is known as the Hungarian hero of Argentina!

Initially The Argentinean Embassy together with The Mayor of Óbuda, Balázs Bús, invited me to participate in this competition, as I am a recognised animal sculpture in my country.

Congratulations! That is a huge honour.

Yes, certainly it is! All artists and their projects in the competition were just amazing!

I guess one of the reasons why I won was due to my idea.  My statement was a Greek archetype of hero who is an eternal figure; not a warrior just a free, naked man, holding a plain flag, somebody who does not belong to any country. A man who has dignity, lives his faith, riding a free horse without saddle.

János Czetz was Hungarian-Armenian, Transylvanian (born in Gidófalva) more precisely, who was a freedom-fighter in the 1848 Hungarian Revolution. He was a kind of cosmopolitan man with great ideas and had the spirit to achieve anything. A true hero type!

What is a hero like to you?

Well, in my opinion real heroes do not need any costumes, nothing to hide behind. One of my favourite artists is Auguste Rodin, who represented important figures such as Balzac or Victor Hugo nude. Going back in the history of art, even the greatest sculptors represented important figures in their nakedness. So I thought I would do the same as nudity represents authenticity, clarity, there are no notions or labels attached to it. I went forward with this little bit far fetched idea, I worked truly hard for it as the actual process took almost half a year though the project from the very first moments took 2 whole years. I was not even sure it will actually happen! But fortunately it all came together.

I came here last November (2018) to check out the studio where I would work and discuss the details of how it is all going to come together. That was actually the time when Leonardo’ s exhibition was on in the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest. I went to see it and I am very humble to say that apparently Leonardo has a similar horse to the one that I had imagined mine to be which I had not known about.  This was the final sign for me in my uncertainties that I am on the right track.

And here I am now, I am extremely pleased and happy for it!

So what is this statue actually going to look like?

It is going to be a real size horse with a real size rider. I am here for 2 months as it is a long process to make the whole structure ready for the bronze casting. We are working on it now in clay.

The statue is going to stand in Budapest in Lékai Bíboros square (III. District of Budapest). The concrete base is already done. I will come back in the end of August when the statue is ready for the finishing bronze touches, the patina, the installation and finally the unveiling.

Will your family come and join to celebrate your big moment with you?

I have two adult sons and I am hoping that both can come with me for the occasion. It is a very important event for me so I do hope somebody from my family can make this huge trip to see the result of my efforts. My family is and has always been a great support for me in my work, without them none of it would have been possible.

Going back in time a little how did your career begin?

I am a great animal and nature lover, I have 4 dogs and an equestrian family which gives me the possibility to ride every day and get involved with horses and dogs.  I love capturing the soul of the animals, I see them through their eyes, I deeply connect with them.

My parents were very fond of arts. I drew really well as a small child so they sent me to a small ceramic school to nurture my skills. hat is where all started when I was about 6 years old. Even back than I always drew horses! I kept working with ceramics ever since. At the age of 15 I started my drawing lessons and painting. After school time I started studying arts. I studied philosophy and arts at college though I have not finished my studies. Instead, I joined great masters’ studios to learn their techniques. My passion has always been horses and did horse jumping simultaneously.

Then finally the time came to set up a studio so with my friend we got together to make this dream come true! We started making statuary for garden deco. It was a fantastic cooperation but it has ended when we were attacked in our studio by armed robbers. Somehow we could not recover from that horrible experience as colleagues though remained close friends.

After that I started working for galleries in Buenos Aires and my career basically took on. I worked in a fantastic gallery for years but after a while I realised I wanted to work for my own and instead of making small animal bronzes I started following my heart and found myself creating huge, life sized animal bronzes. I never draw anything beforehand as I have a mind that works in 3D so it is actually already done in my mind. So this is what I do now. That is my passion! Horses especially, but animals and nature in general. I am really happy and satisfied that I can do what I like so deeply. I arrived to the peek of my carrier at the age when people retire. I feel very lucky to have this gift and blessing in life and to have such a long experience in it. My family supports me so devotedly; they make it possible for me to happen.

Vivianne, we wish you the best of luck and are very excited about having you here in Hungary and hope to be there at the unveiling of your image of our fascinating Hungarian hero, Czetz János.

Thank you so much for the great support in Hungary from everybody who has crossed my path. I had a very warm and unforgettable experience here; people were truly hospitable, open-hearted and really supportive towards me on both personal and work level too. Please do come to see and enjoy the statue of your great hero!

Franciska Kis-Marton