A modern master of “living bronze” sculpture, Victor Issa is one of the few artists working today who possesses the rare craft and ability to transform cold, hard metal into forms that resemble the softness of skin and that appear as if they could breathe and move, with such dynamic realism. He is renowned for his expertise in capturing the primal passion, beauty and vitality of the human figure, and the spirit within. His famous works of religious figures, celebrities, angels, fairies, and more have been seen and admired around the world. We had the special opportunity to sit talk with this esteemed artist, learn where he came from, and discover what motivates the greatness of the artwork he creates.
Victor Issa: I grew up in Lebanon, in the Middle East, I finished high school there, and then I came to America as a freshman in college. Up until I was in college, I hadn’t taken any art classes. I knew that I was really drawn to artistic endeavors. I would draw and paint before I even had any supplies to speak of, with whatever I could. I even did some carvings, I carved an elephant out of soap one time, and so I guess you could say I had the bug during the early years, but I never thought I could make a living at it, because I didn’t know any artist making a living at sculpture or as a painter.
Hollywood Sentinel: Where were you living at this time?
Victor Issa: Beirut. Part of this at the time was Northern Lebanon, in the villages.
Hollywood Sentinel: Victor, it is a real honor to speak with you. Your work is truly amazing. Where are you from and how did you begin as a sculptor?
Hollywood Sentinel: And how was the political climate at this time and your environment?
Victor Issa: We immigrated in 73, which was just a year or two before the civil war broke out, and we lived in what could be considered the golden years of Lebanon, definitely a beautiful time, and the country was peaceful, and growing and prosperous, and then upon leaving- there was unrest, and up until now I guess there is still conflict.
Hollywood Sentinel: I see, do you still have friends or family back there?
Victor Issa: No, all of my family except a couple of my cousins on my mother’s side came the west, either to Canada or the United States, one or two families went to Australia, and the rest all left Lebanon in the 70’s.
Hollywood Sentinel: Do you get back there ever?
Victor Issa: I managed a trip nine years ago, I took three of my children and they got to see where they grew up.
Hollywood Sentinel: You were in college and you began heavily in artwork when?
Victor Issa:I entered college with the intent to graduate as a music education major, because as I said, I didn’t know any artists making a living, so I didn’t think I could either. I was taking art as a minor, and I found myself spending more time in the art building instead of the music building and so my adviser taking note of that suggested I switch to art as a major. But I loved music enough that I decided to double major for a while, and after six years of college I decided to graduate with just an art major and a music minor, I finished a degree in education, but I never got a (full time) job as a teacher. I did some part time teaching, and I got a job in the hotel industry (at that time) to support the family. I graduated in 1980, and in 1988 I decided to pursue art full time, and we decided to move from Nebraska to Colorado, and went full time in Colorado and launched my career.
Hollywood Sentinel: What area of music were you really drawn to?
Victor Issa: I guess my vocal teacher picked upon a talent with my voice, and so I was a vocal major, vocal conducting, as first tenor.
Hollywood Sentinel: Where you are at now, and when you were first learning, when you were carving the elephant in soap, that is obviously a huge leap, can you kind of fill in the gap for me, how did you learn to do what you do now as a sculptor?
Victor Issa: A part of my requirements for art education was a sculpture class. I took the first two semesters at my small parochial college, in Lincoln Nebraska, and I was fairly elementary, and then I needed additional coursework so I went to the University of Nebraska where I signed up for their figure sculpture class, and I was totally hooked and just really loved the process and all of that and so after the class in college I really enjoyed that and after college I started doing some independent work and I hired a model myself and took about nine months to finish a half life size piece.
Hollywood Sentinel: I have to digress for a minute, as you know I am also a model and talent manager… what did she look like? Was this your future wife?
Continued at The Hollywood Sentinel (address below).
Contact Victor Issa at www.www.VictorIssa.com
(c) 2011, The Hollywood Sentinel