Photo Essay: Broken Beauty – Igor Mitoraj’s Monolithic Sculptures At City Of Arts And Sciences

From now until October, the City of Arts and Sciences in València is hosting a free exhibition with trademark ‘broken beauty’ sculptures by the Polish artist Igor Mitoraj. By Eugene Costello, photography by Paul Knowles

As part of the exhibition, you will see 15 large bronze figures. In collaboration with the Contini Art Gallery and Atelier Mitoraj, this is a new commitment to urban and public art. The aim is to bring together science, nature and art in the same space. The works of Igor Mitoraj, made in bronze and between two and five metres high, will be exhibited in different outdoor spaces of the City of Arts and Sciences. This famous Polish sculptor found inspiration in, and is famous for, the concept of “broken beauty”, said Valencia Plaza.

Mitoraj’s sculptures have their own symbolism

These pieces, cast in bronze, call to mind the works of ancient Roman and Greek culture. They differ though, because they have a certain postmodern touch, as they are shown as fragmented. Mitoraj makes these pieces become autonomous entities with their own symbolism. Miriam Atienza is the director of content at the City of Arts and Sciences. Talking to Europa Press Televisión, she said that this sculptor, throughout his artistic career, referenced classical art, as well as the deterioration that this type of art had suffered. Therefore, in his creations he “recovered the values of classical sculpture” in the context of the artistic avant-garde, she said.

Igor Mitoraj was an international artist who combined classical and Renaissance tradition with modernity in his sculptures. All of his works are made using “noble” materials such as bronze and marble. In them he denounces the neglect that the masterpieces of antiquity have received in some places. His sculptures are also closely related to mythological and historical themes, and his Greek and Roman “heroes” and “gods” are scattered around the world, from Paris to the Vatican Museums, and from Pompeii to the United States. Atienza considers that in Mitoraj’s work there is a “dialogue” and a “symbiosis” between architecture and sculpture. In which the sculptor brings his characteristic monumentality to his creations that can reach up to five metres in height.

Enriching the City of Arts and Sciences

For his part, the regional secretary for tourism, Francesc Colomer, stressed that these works bring a message that “re-humanises” and “transforms people” and believes that this cultural proposal “enriches” the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències complex. “These 15 figures converse well with this environment,” says Colomer, “and it is necessary that art and culture act as emotional revulsives to be able to come out stronger in the context of the pandemic.”

For Colomer as the head of Turisme, “in this context of exhaustion that means going through a pandemic and finding yourself in a war, we need this kind of emotional recovery that this space offers us, now enriched with the contribution of these magnificent sculptures.”

Antonio Torres, the director of the City of Arts and Sciences, agrees with this view. He emphasised the “singularity” of Mitoraj’s sculptures, “in line with the singularity of this complex”. 

“It is a way of connecting the public with a concept of ‘broken beauty’ that combines the classical and the postmodern”, says Torres. 

Tourism is on the rise

Torres says that they have noticed a significant upswing in the number of visitors to this space. He also believes that, all else being equal, they can reach the visitor numbers they saw prior to the pandemic. Something which the regional secretary for tourism, Colomer, agrees with. He proudly pointed out that “tourism is picking up again” in this complex.

Mitoraj himself passed away in hospital in Paris in 2014.

  • You can see Igor Mitoraj’s Sculptures in Valencia until 16th October. You’ll find them in different outdoor areas of the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències. All free of charge.

Igor Mitoraj at City of Arts and Sciences © PAUL KNOWLES / VALENCIA LIFE
Igor Mitoraj's Sculptures in Valencia © PAUL KNOWLES / VALENCIA LIFE
Igor Mitoraj's Sculptures in Valencia © PAUL KNOWLES / VALENCIA LIFE
Igor Mitoraj's Sculptures in Valencia © PAUL KNOWLES / VALENCIA LIFE
Broken beauty: ‘Heroes and Gods’ – Igor Mitoraj’s sculptures in Valencia

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