Félix Roulin’s Peace Column acts as a link between earth and sky at the Seoul Olympic Museum of Art

30 years later, it still stands, acting as a bridge between Europe and Asia

Connecting Brussels to Seoul, this is a wonderful story of friendship between Inspiring Culture, the extraordinary sculptor and Master of bronze, Félix Roulin, and the Korean Cultural Centre in Brussels.

Last October, on my return from Seoul, my old friend and sculptor, Félix Roulin, told me that he had visited South Korea in 1988, to exhibit a 3 metre high Column at the Art Olympiad organised in parallel with the Olympic Games taking place in the country. The famous French Post-War art critic, Pierre Restany, who was nicknamed “The Myth” by Andy Warhol, had selected him to exhibit alongside Arman and César. All three have disappeared but Félix is still here, very handsome despite his age, displaying a compassion which reconciles us with mankind.

I set myself the task to track down this sculpture. After an initial moment of panic, I rapidly gained confidence knowing the kindness and professionalism of all the Koreans I have been lucky enough to work with. Nonetheless, this dated back to thirty years ago and it did not seem realistic to expect a positive outcome too soon.

So it was a surprise to receive an answer from the Korea Culture Administration fewer than twelve days later! They sent me a picture of the sculpture, standing in the gardens of Seoul Olympic Museum of Art (SOMA). This incredible image triggered an idea, related to my passion for Art and Cultural Diplomacy. We were just days before Korea National Day, which was to be celebrated in Brussels at the Korean Cultural Centre, opposite the Musée des Beaux Arts.

In one weekend with the help of Mrs Youngchin Choi, Director of KCC in Brussels and her team, and with the support of the H.E. Kim Hyoung Zhin, Embassy and Mission in Belgium, we managed to create a surprise for more than 500 international guests attending the National Day.

Two sculptures by the Belgian artist Félix Roulin were placed at the entrance of the Cultural Centre. These two-meter columns, made of corten steel and bronze, are an invitation to a cultural exchange. They are also a link to the past and to Seoul where, 30 years ago, Félix Roulin was invited to exhibit his first work at the occasion of the 1988 Olympic Games.

Pillar A: The face. As Félix Roulin cannot make moulds of eyes, for health and safety reasons, he considers that a nose-mouth-chin combination suffices to properly characterize a person. The representation of other parts of the body expresses the presence of a complete individual, neither crippled, handicapped nor asexual.

Pillar B: Hands are of great importance for Roulin. They symbolize skills, ability and activity. The sculpture shows an open right hand, symbolizing friendship and dialogue through a non-verbal means of communication.

Félix Roulin, an authentic and captivating sculptor

Félix Roulin (born in Dinant 1931) is an attractive, friendly man with piercing blue eyes. He loves his profession as a sculptor. He has always been a sculptor, and has worked as a tutor in several art schools in Belgium. His mastery of sculpture covers the process from start to finish, which is rare nowadays. In his workshop, set up in an austere farm building made of Belgian bluestone, he creates his works using a whole series of different techniques and skills, combining a variety of materials like bronze, steel, corten steel, and stone.

Today, after more than 65 years of making sculpture, he considers that his art form is about space and how to play with it. To exist in space, sculptures need material that has been worked using certain techniques and tools. They need light and space and to relate to their environment.

Félix Roulin belongs to the same modelling tradition as Rodin and Maillol. Combining different materials is both a challenge and an adventure for the sculptor. As Félix Roulin likes to say “This fight is also part of the human adventure. When describing pre-history, we talk about the cut Stone Age, and then the polished Stone Age, and then the Bronze Age and the Iron Age; the evolution of sculpture occurred simultaneously, because when men were making stone axes, they were also carving the first stone Venus; when they poured bronze for shields and helmets, they also made statues. Technological advances were used to make both useful objects and art.”

Dr. Pick Keobandith