Sculptor’s Art Comes In Many Forms

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Zoltan Markan will have work on display at the “Completely Twisted” Sculpture and Fine Art show from May 7-16 in the Galleria Building at Innovation Place. (Photo by Joanne Paulson)

Two tiny bronze works of art are carefully placed on large round stones in Zoltan Markan’s sculpture garden. 

That’s pretty much it for traditional statuary. Markan’s wild, art-studded yard holds an arbour made of strange delights and found objects (such as crushed beer cans), welded creatures, myriad wooden items and large sheets of appliqued glass panels. The children from King George School often come by to wonder at the unusual garden.

It is, indeed, a display of contemporary sculptures, many of which would fit right in at the “Completely Twisted” Sculpture as Fine Art show coming up May 7-16 in the Galleria Building at Innovation Place.

But perhaps just one or two of the items on display in Markan’s yard, which are still in progress, will make it to the Prairie Sculptors Association show. 

“If you’re doing a show, you better be showing new stuff,” said Markan on a chilly day, showing a reporter not only his own works, but those he has purchased from other sculptors.

“As a group we want to promote intrigue. If we really want to get the public engaged, we better be doing engaging work.”

Twenty or so artists will have 50-plus works on display, all for sale. Markan won’t say for sure what he’ll be showing, but it’s likely to include a large glass work.

All the contemporary, message-laden works notwithstanding, Markan is classically trained . . . and in more than just sculpture. He holds diplomas and degrees from such schools and universities as the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, although some of his training is not in visual art production. He is a printer, paper-maker, jeweler, welder and — day job being necessary for most artists — home builder. He has also studied painting and ceramics, loves photography, and is a drafter. 

He has lived in Saskatoon for 30 years, but his past continues to inform his work and his political metaphors. For example, one sculpture entitled Ship of Fools depicts dozens of tiny soldiers fighting on a long, slender boat. The soldiers represent humanity, the ship is Earth, and it’s up to the viewer to decide whether the soldiers will topple off or the ship will capsize.

It connects strongly with Markan’s early life. Born in 1956 Hungary, his family was forced to flee the invading Russian Communists into the former Yugoslavia. After six months in a refugee camp, they boarded a boat to Halifax and went on to Toronto, settling in a rural area near Barrie, Ont. Markan was a baby when the family left its homeland.

Markan said he comes by his fascination with art of all kinds — he also writes poetry — honestly via genetics. His grandfather was a visual artist, as is his brother, Martin. His children and sister all display talent and interest, as well.

“The cultural part of being from anywhere else is important to the aesthetic sense,” he said. “There are other cultural influences (that inform) how we sense visual art, music, dance. It’s like the proverbial goulash. It has to stew a bit; the flavours have to combine and integrate.

“People ask, what’s your medium? And I don’t have one. I use all media.” Just like the ingredients in a good goulash.

He does not consider himself primarily a sculptor, but a melder and creator of many art forms. At present, however, “I’m focusing on a lot of sculpture. I go in and out of things so fluidly. If I want to do 10 paintings, I’ll do 10 paintings. 

“I love light and glass. I like to take that and found objects and to do something totally different,” such as the applique process on his version of stained glass.

He indicates a small blue glass ball, bobbing gently in the wind on its spring.

“Bronze is static, and that’s traditional. I want to do this,” he says, pointing to the ball, “because it’s ambient.”

The little ball is also healing and therapeutic, in Markan’s view. “Artists often suffer from mood swings or depression. I’m very conscious of the therapeutic role of art.”

The sculptors’ show will encompass a variety of styles, from the more traditional to the conceptual wherein “the idea is more important than the form of the piece.”

It runs from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
May 7-16, with an opening reception Friday, May 10, from 6-9 p.m. at which Markan will speak on the art form. Demonstrations go Saturday and Sunday from 1-5 p.m. Admission is free.