Valextra’s Fall/Winter 2018 collection is an invitation to be enchanted by nature, to live at a slow pace and to introduce a sense of fairytale into our daily lives. The collection’s catalog was photographed against a charming backdrop: a park dubbed ‘Dreamwoods’, a magical location in the heart of Tuscany, appearing like an enchanted forest of childhood fantasies dotted with rudimental sculptures created with combinations of found objects and stones.
The park is the brainchild of German artist Deva Manfredo (a pseudonym for Manfred Flucke), who since the early 1980s has been creating sculptural compositions with stones he found on the land. With a background in urbanism and sociology and extensive experience with photography, graphic design, painting and more, Flucke approached sculpture by chance. When living in Tuscany, he found some stones while clearing a field, and spent time observing and studying their rough shapes. ‘It felt like entering an ancient world, something primordial and characterized by extraordinary simplicity,’ he says.
From those first few experiments, the project grew to over 230 works, spread across 10 acres of land. His compositions aim at merging contemporary, familiar shapes with basic aesthetic expressions, and his works (created spontaneously without a precise visual agenda) suggest anthropomorphic figures, micro-architectures, totemic constructions or mandala-like geometric compositions created on a flat surface – the resulting landscape is the result of human touch as taken over by nature. Flucke observed how nature becomes ‘a partner’ in his oeuvre, over time taking over the compositions, which also serve as shelters or nests for a variety of small animals and insects living on the land.
Since a young age, the artist was exposed to the concept of ‘aging beauty’, having grown up in a small medieval town in Germany whose stone and wooden houses instilled a sense of wonder, curiosity and protection in a young Flucke. A life of creative work came to its natural apex at Dreamwoods, which over nearly three decades has become a project of artistic production as much as a way to connect with the natural environment. Each piece reflects a moment in the artist’s life while telling a story of natural and environmental phenomena, with sculptures changed over times by sand storms, pollution, lichens and the passing of the seasons. It is a cycle which Flucke celebrates, admitting his project is in constant flux and in total harmony with its surroundings: ‘I give back to nature while I look for beauty’, he says.