Olivier Duhamel strives to capture the beauty and the emotions he sees in his subjects of study but his artist identity is constantly evolving and to describe him is aiming at a very elusive target indeed. He is a prolific artist who has acquired a mastery of the human form through years of practice of the time honoured discipline of life drawing. He initially grew a reputation as a meticulous portrait artist and then established himself as a leading New Zealand sculptor for his delicate and elegant bronze figurines. However, one aspect of his practice remains constant in his source of inspiration, the female nude. “I really like contemporary dance and wish that I could capture as much beauty and emotion with my sculptures that dancers can express with their body”
His more recent wooden sculptures and exploration of digital media are compulsive viewing and people are often fascinated by their fluctuating lights or by the translucence of his acrylic works, imbuing a resolutely contemporary texture to his rather classical and academic shapes. Once metamorphosed into static effigies, his model’s forms surprisingly retain their motion; the artist’s skilful attention to details brings out their countenance and personality. The translucence of the acrylic lets light reflect the vitality and the dynamic of the pose. Likewise, the dual tone of the wood pieces produces highlights that appears or wanes depending on the point of view, changing the appearance and texture of the sculpture’ s topography. The stiffness and strength of these materials are distinctively opposed to the softness and suppleness of the body, yet, under the hands of the sculptor, the curves of the flesh and folds of skin are delicately suggested in a celebration of the beauty, energy and sensuality of these women.