A glimpse of the past
During the second half of the 20th century, the international sculpture symposium Forma viva was one of the few examples of figurative art expression in the local environment, renowned for always being updated with the art avantgardes of the time.
Based on the sculpture symposium held in St. Margarethen, Austria, in 1959, the international approach of Forma viva helped the artists expanding their networks, thanks to the connections they had the opportunity to develop while working together.
These factors facilitated the evolution of sculpture towards the trends of contemporary art, combining traditional materials with innovative techniques.
It is not a coincidence that two of the key contributors of the first edition of Forma viva were Janez Lensassi and Jakob Savinšek, Slovenian sculptores.
The idea behind the name “Forma viva” came to the sculptor Jakob Savinšek for the first edition and has since gained recognition and popularity. The title of the event wants to convey the way the artist interacts with its creative activity and the vitality he puts in the research of new forms of expression.
Over time, “Forma viva” became an expression of common use to describe every kind of sculpture placed in an open space.
An event in the name of territorial specificities
Among the sculpture symposia held around the world, Forma Viva emerges thanks to its distribution between four different areas, located at the extreme borders of Slovenia and divided for materials, which were already available in the local territory – Kostanjevica na Krki (wood), Portorož (stone), Ravne na Koroškem (iron), Maribor (concrete) – which defined since the beginning the planning of the event.
Open-air art workshops
The Symposia are genuine open-air art workshops, which gathers together national and international sculptors who capitalize the opportunity to work on large-scale pieces.
The international environment draws the attention of locals, art lovers and passers-by, turning these locations in fascinating melting pots. Even though the Slovene Symposium is largely attended by European sculptors, over the years has also managed to host artists from every other continent (except Australia).
Alongside the prevailing share of Slovene artists, there is also a considerable amount of Japanese attendees.
The Symposium's decay and a new impulse
At the end of the 80’s, after almost thirty years of continuous activity, there was a sharp decline of this international event. Since 1991 the Symposium continued its activity solely in Portorož, continuously. After a ten-year hiatus, the example of Portorož was followed by Kosntanjevica, where in 1998 the wooden sculptures activity restarted.
The Carinthia Museum in Ravne reorganized the group of iron sculptures realized during the years and took the responsibility of the protection and preservation of the artworks.
With these initiatives, some centres showed their interest in bringing the symposia back to life.
The open-air sculptures collection
Forma Viva, thanks to the particular physiognomy of its four different locations and the specificity of the materials, created a unique set of collections of contemporary sculptures placed in the open air. The symposia encompass artworks of artists coming from different parts of the world, each displaying his different background and his own creative input. The considerable heterogeneity of forms and subjects that characterizes the collections offers a valuable source of study for the conception and design of open-air sculptures.
Forma viva today
The stone sculpture collection of Portorož amounts today to more than one hundred thirty pieces: most of them are placed on the green peninsula of Seča, while the others are located in the city centres and in the parks of the Slovene Littoral. The connections with the international art scene and the long and continuous tradition of the event are the elements that made the sculpture biennial a staple inclusion into the art lovers’ itinerary, resulting in one of the most ambitious and fascinating examples of dialogue between contemporary art and local environment.