THE SPHINX by jean pronovost
“What is that which has one voice and yet becomes four-footed and two-footed and three-footed?” This is the riddle of the Sphinx. To answer it, you must first know yourself. If you answer wrongly, she devours you. Identity issues are her favorite snack!
Regarded as the guardian of civilization for the Egyptians and the one who puts a man into question with her riddle in several ancient Greek plays and myths, the Sphinx is a timeless and powerful symbolic figure. She is an ancient symbol of equilibrium and justice, one with a dual nature: her beautiful female body has the paws and tail of a lion that represent the power of the earth, and the wings of an eagle that signify the air and spirit. This dualism brings us back to questioning ourselves, as individuals and as a society. We must strive to keep in balance these two natures we all possess: our materialism and power and then our idealism and compassion. She symbolizes the highest longing of mankind – to raise itself above its lower animal nature to its highest potential and spirit. She is the symbol of hope that humanity can overcome its appetites and vices to achieve a greater sense of harmony and justice. In her Greek form, as a goddess rather than a king as we see with the Egyptian version, she also represents fertility. We can begin again and give rise to new ideals.
We find the Sphinx here forcefully kneeling on the chest of a banker who is vomiting money while lying on a safe. She is pinning him down, an act of overcoming the immense greed and abusive power occurring in our contemporary world. She seeks justice for all. The banker represents the corporations and powerful men who lie and steal from the public for their own gain. He wants more riches for himself. Where their hands meet on the left, we see a gavel and on the right, a gold bar, and the Sphinx appears to be wrestling these things from his fat fingers in order to restore the balance we all so badly need. The safe below his bloated body is our public treasury, looted by himself and the other greedy corporations. It is nearly empty, only a few gold bars remain inside that he didn’t get the chance to take yet. When we let our materialism rule, we become empty inside, filled with nothingness – our most significant treasures of compassion, idealism, and spirit become lost and we fall into decay. We get out of balance when we don’t know who and what we are. We become the meal of bankers, corporations, and the Sphinx.
THE SPHINX - THE PROCESS
- This sculpture took 3 years to complete.
- The Safe : It is not a real one but rather a metal box and door created to look like a safe. A real safe would be too heavy to move. The safe box is made of steel: it is welded, soldered, and riveted. The door was created as a separate piece from the box, and it is made of resin reinforced with metal. This door has only one position, which is open until the sculpture is lifted up. There is a hidden apparatus inside the safe box, a motorcycle lift, so it can be raised and moved around. There are pins in the lid of the safe box to hold the banker in the right place. The gold bars are made of resin and painted.
- The Banker : A real-life person served as the inspiration for this figure, a wonderful actor from Denis Villeneuve’s short film Next Floor (2008) – a film that Jean worked on as a prop designer. A general mold was taken of this actor, but before the casting process, most of his features were altered and accentuated: he was made fatter, his facial features were changed, etc. He is made entirely out of resin that is reinforced with fiberglass and coated in real bronze powder. He is then polished, oxidized with a patina, and then sealed and varnished.
- The Sphinx : She is loosely based on a real model, and most of her facial features were adjusted in the casting and modeling process to give her look more intense look and Grecian styled hair. She has a soldered steel frame inside of her that goes from the wings into the body. Otherwise, she is hollow inside, to keep her lightweight. Some pins secure her to the banker, through his belly. Over the steel frame, she is sculpted from resin and reinforced with fiberglass, and then coated in real bronze powder. She is then polished, oxidized with a patina, and then sealed and varnished.