“There is no need for an exhibition, it sells itself on the Internet”

Recovers raw materials at a recycling center or on the street. In Chavigny, south of Nancy, Benjamin Kuntz patiently cuts scrap metal before turning it into carefully welded sculptures. In the last two years, he even managed to make a living from the sale of his works.

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Metal scraps are scattered on the ground, cut into small pieces. Old tools, wrenches, taps, bolts. Benjamin Kuntz works on his sculptures in his garage in the workers’ mansion in Chaligny: “I’m famous now, they give me a lot of scrap metal, I buy it every now and then, I buy everything I can. I just have records I bought wholesale on the internet“. With the help of a simple grinder, without gloves, he sometimes forgets to wear his safety glasses: “I recently had a fracture in my right eye“.

He has a few workbenches and even a band saw, but that’s how he prefers to work. The concrete in front of the door bears witness to the blows of the knife, dug into rusty furrows as much as the memories in the 34-year-old’s head: “I started ten years ago, always liked it, but it’s only been two years since I’ve been able to make a living from it“.

I hate rust, it has to be clean and the metal shines!

Benjamin Kuntz, steel sculptor

The process is initial but requires a lot of patience. First, the artist designs plaster molds, in which he arranges small pieces of steel, which he cuts and grinds, one by one. Then he welds them with an arc: “you have to be very careful, first of all with keeping the patterns and then with the arrangement so that the solder immediately accepts several elements without sticking them together“. His favorite model, the female bust, which he is currently repeating: “I have four jobs! Customers have already paid and need to hurry“.

Benjamin is in a hurry, he doesn’t stop. He conveys pieces of his story and wants to show everything at the same time. Eager to explain his findings, he wants to share his creations and inspiration, like this one-meter-diameter ball made with the same cutting/welding process that has a light bulb inside: “it opens by itself, like a photophore“.

He introduces us to his turtle and even takes his boa out of the vivarium. The living room of his small townhouse serves as a showroom between his self-designed and steel-clad furniture and the small pieces he has discarded. magnet for a refrigerator or as a key ring. Animals feature prominently in his inspiration: he particularly rejects pétanque balls in placid turtles with their heads in springs. The rolling balls turn into frogs. It also grinds the screws, reducing the thread to create a flat surface. Stacked in a star, they form an excellent mystery leaf that adds to the puzzle of larger pieces.

For two years, he has the status of an auto-entrepreneur, which allows him to make a living from his work.I’ve seen how it goes, I’ll be able to hire soon” he laughs, surprised by the interest shown in his approach. In another life, he was a gardener. Tall, thin, soft-spoken, hazel-eyed young man does not hide his fragility. His body is scarred. Elbows, knees, arms, scars: skateboard accidents, motocross, life accidents.My boyfriend helps me a lot” the artist slips without spilling more. One of his videos on TikTok has exceeded a million views. He details his creations, he is not stingy with tips and tricks. Benjamin responds to angry people with humor, presents his findings and rejoices”people who throw everything away“Showing off the tools he collected from the local junkyard.

When asked when he exhibits his works, he laughs quietly: “but I don’t need it! Thanks to the videos, there are always orders, I don’t even have a website, I never promote.“. During the time we spend together, his phone vibrates non-stop. Two orders and a price request in half an hour. He completes the piece taken from him by varnishing it in an aerosol can: “I hate rust, it has to be clean and the metal shines“.

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