The Caves of Sphaèros

The Caves of Sphaèros

First published: Spring 2020

David Sphaèros is known by some as a sculptor, and by others as the founder of the rock band, Aqua Nebula Oscillator, which he has described as “a spatial circus aimed at recreating a psychedelic vision on stage”. In recent years, Sphaèros’s various creative activities seem to have merged. Living a subterranean, nocturnal life in Paris, in a cavern dating from the sixteenth century – “Caves”, as he calls them – Sphaèros creates sculptures, music, mystic accessories, photographs and videos. They are all part of his sanctum.

Before settling in his Caves in 2005, Sphaèros led a nomadic life, travelling all over the world in a quest for transcendental enlightenment, and living for a time in India and the US. In 1997, Sphaèros settled in London to create a “theatre of oddity”. He conducted ecstatic performances comprising music, dance, a fakir and visual projections, with artists wearing masks that he had created.

Part of Sphaèros’s Caves, (left to right): Innommable, 1998, mixed media, bull horns, bones and fur; Homme Faucon, 2004, mixed media, goat horns, fur and barn owl legs; Homme Paon, 2005, mixed media, and rooster and peacock feathers; Vièrge et ses Hallucinations, 2016, mixed media and otter skin; Milk, 2014, mixed media, articulated skeleton and bronze powder; Jumelles, 2003, mixed media, antelope horns and ram skull; and Sphaèros III, 2019, mixed media, glass eyes, human hair, otter skin, chicken bones and antelope horns.

Sphaèros made his first sculptures at the age of 15, after seeing shrunken heads made by the Jivaroan people of Peru and Ecuador in a museum. He desperately wanted to possess such heads, so he created sculptures that seemed to be part ghost and part monster, and were reminiscent of creatures depicted by the artist Hieronymus Bosch and horror author HP Lovecraft. With their bulging, staring eyes and silent, gaping mouths, his works often evoked the act of screaming. For these early creations, Sphaèros used three approaches. In the first, starting in 1989, he felt he made spirits speak, and translated their messages into sculptures made mostly from clay and pigment. He would create each sculpture over a single night, during a kind of a ritual in which he was in a trance-like state. The second approach, from 1999, was more premeditated: he made assemblages from gifts he had received from people, which were intended to protect the givers. His third technique involved creating art while taking an inner journey under the influence of psychedelic substances.

In most of his work, Sphaèros includes stones and bones that he has found in places of ritual. He also uses his own blood, human skull powder, human hair and animal parts, such as bird feathers, owl talons and cobra skeleton powder. He always chooses predators or symbolic animals because, for him, they have a great energetic force which he believes can help people find their spirit animal. Some of his sculptures, such as Jumelles (Twin Sisters, 2003), have a double or triple face to show the different aspects of the human soul.
 

This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #105