Art and wine have always had a close relationship, but they have never been closer than at Quinta dos Vales Wine Estate, where stunning sculptures can be enjoyed together with high quality award-winning wines. In several garden locations you will find an exhibition of well over a hundred pieces in different styles, materials and sizes. Art was a founding element of Quinta dos Vales, and continues to be at its core today. The artist behind the majority of these sculptures is actually the owner of Quinta dos Vales, Karl Heinz Stock. He has been an artist for decades and knew from the very beginning that he wished to combine wine with art. The reason for this is that there is one characteristic which a wine or art lover needs, and that is patience. Neither wine nor art are simple pleasures, they require thought and time to be enjoyed to the fullest, and this is the proposition that is set to the visitors of the wine estate.
Most of the art pieces were already part of wandering exhibitions, in display across Europe. These included the installations of Graces, the Elephant Tree, Reunion of the Bulls, Dance of the Bears and Passion.
Like wine, art is developed with heart, care and precision. As art and wine have always formed a close symbiosis it was obvious for us that these cultural aspects have to be brought together. Karl Heinz Stock, owner and developer of Quinta dos Vales, has long been an adventurous entrepreneur but as a side interest always been active in sculpturing. He found the farm to be a perfect combination for exhibiting his extraordinary and sometimes provoking art pieces, while simultaneously creating attention for his wine venture.
That together with his passion for wine resulted in what is currently Quinta dos Vales – an absolutely unique wine estate with hundreds of colourful sculptures in an open-air exhibition. The idea behind these art pieces is simple and complex at the same time. Art should have, in principle, no limits; neither political nor cultural, allowing the expression of ideas which would not have been possible in less democratic societies. In this respect art has, and always had, an important social and political role. It crosses borders without asking for permission, it makes the impossible become possible, it creates a link between nations, it allows a common language without words, it does not know friends or enemies and is not limited by gravity, logic or man made limitations. This ability of creative freedom develops an immense output of creativity during the process of creation itself but also later in the communication with observers. It opens the mind. Neither artist nor observer need to meet. It is also not a necessity that art is to the liking of all viewers. Artists are regular human beings and certainly hope that their pieces will find a positive feedback from critics as well as the audience. But even if this does not take place and an art piece is disliked, it does have its right of existence as it has created an interaction. Much worse would be a neutral reaction as it would mean the artist would not have achieved his goal: to reach others and enter into communication, transmitting the message.
The ideas behind the sculptural work are the same which drive the evolution of wine: both are linked to the traditional but also explore new experiences, limits and directions.
Imagine a space where the planet Earth could be seen from a few metres away. What if, as well as being able to see it, we could modify it? Perhaps we could paint it a brighter colour, or draw a familiar face, an animal, a plant, or perhaps a mixture of all of these? Nothing is impossible when it comes to imagination. In the exhibition "Multifaceted Globes", we can see 15 different painted globes that transport us to the most hidden places on earth.
This huge sculpture-painting which occupies nearly 100 m3 for space focuses on unity and diversity of our planet among the five continents, not only educating us to the various ways of life, but awakening us to the sustainability and global environmental situation through the eyes of 12 multicultural artists who joined Karl Heinz Stock to implement this project. Given the complex engineering required to produce the sculptures, the project was sub-divided into two parts, one with the five continents with a diameter of 165 cm each, and another with the 15 spheres measuring 120 cm in diameter. Working with a number of artists is always a big challenge as lastly one art piece has to be created. However the most complicated part of this composition was indeed the engineering project; how to find a way to install the inner rings with the globes already in place, and only then install the outer rings.?Once the outer rings were in place, the steel cables could be attached to the inner and outer rings.
The inner ring supports could then be removed and the structure would remain balanced. Sounds easy, but it required numerous hours of brainstorming, model building, and micro-tuning. The technical difficulties were - as always - a little greater than originally anticipated.
“Dance of the Bears” or “The journey of ten thousand miles starts with the first step”.
In this project the artist, Karl Heinz Stock, created with his team of craftsmen mostly similar looking, but still unique sculptures of unique creatures and invited 26 talented painters and mosaic artists from several countries with different nationalities and backgrounds to make their own interpretation of the theme “Evolution”. This was the only general guideline, besides this the artists were free in their artistic expression. The transformation of two-dimensional paintings and mosaics into three-dimensional sculpture-paintings was an exciting new experience for all participants.
While the driving element behind the bear project is also uniting, it was not intended to be political or educational. What should be achieved was simply a new artistic interpretation of the term “evolution”, to show presence. And if we can give an impulse to try harder: even better. Evolution is the driving force for positive changes and vice versa and the reason why mankind has developed and develops further.
The artistic interpretation of an abstract idea is never easy but we may have achieved what we were looking for.
The multicultural aspect has been an important element in the project as it proved to be mind opening and increased the spectrum of experiences. The bear sculpture as the base medium to transmit the message has been specifically chosen as it is in many aspects close to human beings. Since the beginning of time bears captured man’s imagination, in many civilisations bears were often represented in art, as a symbol of strength, and capacity of adapting to change. Mankind and art have moved on from the ancient concepts of its early ages. Many years have passed and the bear still sparkles as a symbol in modern society for is endurance, perseverance, and capacity of having adapting characteristics that we humans aspire and admire.
For more, see the brochure “Dance of the Bears”
Passion means many things to many people. But whatever the meaning, life is all about passion. This all-embracing theme is what makes us all unique and diverse and helps us achieve or fulfill what we most desire. The project “Passion”, the follow-up to the successful “Dance of the Bears”, is just this: an opportunity for the passion-driven artists to interpret this universal theme very freely, using the three-dimensional animal sculpture as their medium to share their interpretations across the country.
A unique project that conjures many readings, it’s no surprise that it has uncovered a wide spectrum of very individual interpretations. Each piece remains an individual work, but yet they all have a special momentum because of the expectations that the artists have of themselves and of the team as a whole. What drives us to achieve success and happiness throughout our lives? Passion, a feeling that can mean many things. The main challenge to transform the idea of “Passion” into an animal sculpture, was to find a medium which could represent this idea. Elephants, animals with approximately the same life span as a human being, clever, very family oriented and their adolescents with nearly the same behaviour as their human counterparts have been the final choice. Needless to say, they inspired the artists to go even one step further. In addition to a “normal” wandering sculpture exhibition, the idea to inspire elephants climbing trees were born. If you are looking around, you will still find several elephants occupying trees! The original elephant tree sculpture can today be found in Germany. For more, see the brochure “Passion”.
These works are generally based on strong organic elements, which the artist sees as the best interpretation of full-bodied women. The Graces, curvy female figures with prominent and voluptuous shapes, seem to defy gravity and float like ballerinas in motion, while keeping the very delicate balance between opulence and lightness. This set of sculptures can be found in different shapes, from a flowing dance to a defying swing that seems to overcome all obstacles; and plenty are also the materials of which these can be made of.
These sculptures are inspired by the likes of Henry Spencer Moore, Fernando Botero and especially Niki de Saint Phalle with her colourful Nanas. You can recognise influences from each artist's pieces in the unique collection of creations.
The smaller Graces are produced in ceramic and bronze; the larger ones, made from fibreglass and polyester resin, and may have from 85 centimetres to 6 metres in height, a wonderful art piece for a small garden or an extensive property. The choice to work with fibreglass and polyester resin has not been an easy one, considering that the work process itself is an important part of the creation of a sculpture. Working with hand tools on a stone releases for example the smell of metals hidden for thousands of years in the stone, working with bronze is an exciting process which requires high skills from different craftsmen. However, taken into consideration that all sculptures coming from this workshop have been and are supposed to “travel”, logistics outweighed at the end the traditional materials. Our graces can be found all over Europe, from the cold Norway up to the Swiss Alps.