Philippe Timmermans makes male sculptures in bronze. The work of Timmermans has a clear signature; formed by the combination of the instantly recognizable in the typical poses of the naked bodies and the extremely detailed textures.
The creative process of a male nude
In his atelier in Zottegem in the Flemish Ardennes Philippe still works in the traditional way; hand covered in clay. He molds his creations step by step in the company of absolute silence or accompanied by classical music.
This is how the inspiration flows. Philippe suddenly ‘sees’ a sculpture in something happening around him. A radio show about the future of Europe was the inspiration for ‘In Dubio’, the sculpture of the man with spread legs and rounded arms, holding together a split pedestal.
Once the ‘image’ has taken clear shape in his head, Philippe seeks out a model and organizes a photoshoot, that helps visualize the pose he had imagined. Once this is done, the sculpting can begin. The artist starts out by creating the torso, step by step, in all its details. He molds the hands and the head separately, and once the body is completely finished, he puts the pieces together. Posture and proportions are key in this phase. Throughout the process he adds fine lines, the textures, into the clay. Thusly, he finishes the sculpture until he find perfection. Perfection and a high level of quality, those are the words often used when talking about Philippe.
When is the sculpture ready to go to the bronze caster? According to Philippe, the totality of the proportions needs to be right. To do this he trusts in his own intuitive frame of reference, to feel when these proportions are just right. His sculptures are never exact copies of his models. “I work with models, but I do not recreate models. The final sculpture is a form of idealization”, he says about the matter.
That’s when the hard part comes, the letting go. The passion is that enormous… Philippe easily spends 4 to 6 weeks, working on one sculpture. Then he makes the mold and that is brought to the bronze caster.
Already at the beginning of the creative process, when the sculpture is still in his head, the artist starts thinking about the ‘ground’ on which the sculpture will find itself. The pedestal, or how the sculpture will be presented, is part of his starting point. It is a magical moment according to the artist, to unite the sculpture with its pedestal.
Timmermans’ artistic career
Philippe also creates more realistic sculptures -following the tradition of the classical form of sculpture-, often commissioned by museums. He is the creator of the Julius Caesar that points to the Archeocenter in Velzeke. For the town of Zwalm he made a stonemason and a sower as part of a seven sculpture group, depicting the seven main occupations.
In 1992 Philippe made one of the most well-known statues in Ghent: the life-size diver on the Lindelei. There’s a great story attached. The architect that designed the house, envisioned a diver on the roof in his original drawings. Someone introduced the architect to Philippe, who was creating a life-size diver right at that very moment. It was meant to be. The image was completed a couple of years later, when on a balcony on the other side of the water, the ‘Diving Lady’ by Ronald Cameron appeared.
Only male sculptures
As a sculptor, one does not create humans, but a sculpture’, says Philippe. ‘My sculptures are an externalization of what ‘I am’. Men that mold a woman, give them their own interpretation, because they are not women. I can ‘feel’ my sculpture for myself, I experience the pose of my arms and legs, my muscles relaxing. It’s my masculine energy and I express it in my work. I cannot do that for a female sculpture.’
Philippe’s sculptures exist in different sizes. ‘Man-size” sculptures, that’s how he describes them, the sculptures that are just a bit bigger than the real human body. This trick is necessary to make an ‘impression’ in the public sphere. He also makes sculptures that are half man-size and smaller sculptures of about 20 to 25 centimeters.