Robert Koenig’s Odyssey consists of a crowd of 39 monumental wood figures, each 2.5m tall, carved in wood from lime trees that grew in the artist’s mother’s home village of Dominikowice in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains in South East Poland. Most of these male and female figures were carved in the village between 1997 – 2002.
Odyssey is a search for ancestral and sculptural roots The figures symbolise the artist’s ancestors.. Odyssey deals with issues of migration, forced or voluntary. During its journey it bears witness to past events, on a family level, a national and international level. It can represent many people’s experiences. It talks about heritage, belonging, displacement and people’s place in the world. This project which started out as a search for Polish ancestral roots is taking on a pan-European and universal dimension. Odyssey undertakes a spiritual journey following a route taken by the artist’s mother in 1942 from her home village of Dominikowice in Poland, through Krakow, the Nazi slave labour camps in Germany during WW2 and on to the UK where she settled after the War. Odyssey has toured various towns and cities relevant to family history. These include Lwow in the Ukraine, Tarnow, Krakow, Gorlice and Zakopane in Southern Poland. The carvings were placed for short periods on street corners, squares, in front of churches, cathedrals where they were filmed and photographed and where they could meet the local communities directly. Odyssey is a touring exhibition that is being continuously enlarged with figures carved from trees local to the exhibition venues. Since 2006 exhibitions have taken place in York Minster, Chichester Cathedral, Salisbury Cathedral, Portsmouth Cathedral, Milton Keynes Church of Christ the Cornerstone, Rochester Cathedral and Stockport Art Gallery. One more figure will be carved at St Martin’s in the Fields during the exhibition.
Robert Koenig was born in Manchester in 1951. He studied sculpture at Brighton Polytechnic and the Slade School of Art in London. He exhibits widely and regularly works on public sculpture commissions. He is an Associate Member of the Royal Society of British Sculptors.
Exhibition: Robert Koenig’s Odyssey. St Martins-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London. Monday 19 March – Friday 20 July 2012.
Exhibition: Robert Koenig: Culture of Wood: To mark the arrival of Odyssey in London an exhibition of his affordable, collectable work will be held at La Galleria, Pall Mall: March 25th – March 31st. Sunday 10.30 am – 5pm, Monday to Friday 10am – 7pm and Saturday 10.30am-5pm