please wait, site is loading

Part Four

Click on the toggle button above for full screen slideshow


Though it has never been physically exhibited in Paris, photos of “Les Routes de La Grande Odalisque (The Large Brain)” were published in 1988, in a book by the City of Paris, MÉTROPOLITAIN – L’autre dimension de la ville (The Other Dimension of the City), concerning an exhibition that was sponsored by The Paris Historical Library.

At that point, the stranger-than-fiction saga continued, but in Barcelona, when it was shipped there by a cultural foundation that planned to exhibit my artwork during the 1992 Olympics. The glasswork was to be expertly packed by a company in Los Angeles, which often shipped antiques abroad. Unknown to me, while I awaited in Barcelona for its arrival, the owner of the shipping company died of a heart attack. For one month I panicked as I had no idea what had happened to my artwork, when I learned that the shipper’s brother sent it by sea to the wrong address of a receiving shipping company at the port of Barcelona. Eventually it was tracked down and the owner of the company greeted me with words that I shall never forget, “You have big problems!”

The artwork was sent with improper import papers. For the next month I found myself immersed in a bureaucratic war with Customs officials before I was able to retrieve my artwork, as they tried to extort several thousands of dollars from me for my own possessions. Incredulously, a Customs official finally released my belongings at no cost, upon informing me that he was a painter and at his request I gave him a contact with the director of the art foundation that paid for the shipment.

Demolished crate and damaged wooden frame

This was just the beginning of the troubles I was warned about. I was there when an enormous shipping container was opened only to discover that the new crates I had paid for had never been made. Shockingly, before my eyes were the very flimsy crates I had used to deliver the glasswork to the shipper in LA. They had been squashed among many other crates inside the container and the one made for its enormous wooden frame was torn to shreds, as if eaten by a sea monster. Adding insult to injury, the insurance I had paid for did not cover the repairs because the deceased owner’s brother had falsely described the contents as “theatrical costumes.” Then came the clincher: the director of the foundation, who had paid to ship them overseas, informed me that severe budget cuts caused by overspending for the 1992 Olympics forced him to cancel the exhibition. Shipwrecked in Barcelona, I repaired the artwork the best that I could without having any access to specific colors or textures of glass that matched pieces that had been broken.

Eventually I exhibited it briefly in a private local art gallery, along with the flimsy wooden crates that it was shipped in, plus I framed and displayed the documentary photos seen in the background slideshow of its inspection by a Customs official upon its arrival. It then remained in storage for many years, until it was exhibited was in 2004, in another private gallery, belonging to Catalan architect, Antoni Poch. 

Speaking at a reception at the art gallery of Catalan architect, Toni Poch, November 2014

During those years, my work went through a profound transformation, from relying on an ancient craft to exploring various avenues of high technology including computer graphics, music recording, production and digital video editing. I further became immersed in an even greater adventure: restoring a medieval tower in Poland, while using it for artistic, cultural, educational and culinary purposes.

For all of that time, the glassworks, “Les Routes de la Grande Odalisque (The Large Brain)” and “The Routes of the Grand Illusion (Shooting Star Triptik)” remained in storage, in Barcelona, awaiting their merging with my work created both before and since then, during the continuing multimedia development of The Underground Cathedral.

In the meantime, I found other ways to present this enormous delicate artwork in virtual forms. After all, it is a “cathedral” that I embarked on building. During this never-ending process, I spent years witnessing a perfect example of this in Barcelona, where Antoni Gaudi’s “Sagrada Familia” continues to be constructed some 90 years after his death.

As my once mothballed artworks once again come to light, they will be accompanied by many evolutions of The Underground Cathedral, which makes their presentation that much more meaningful and special.

Note: The background slideshow contains photos I took of my two large glass artworks upon arrival in Barcelona in 1992. The first image is of the shipping container, the next of serious damage to the wooden frame of “Les routes de La Grande Odalisque (The Large Brain)” and the near complete decimation of its wooden crate, the three crates containing the 12 individual panels of the artwork being removed on a lift from the shipping container and inspection of the artwork inside one of the three crates.

Click here for Part Five: Da Capo (Return to the Beginning)