The secret within the cityscape

Colour, Philosophy, Steel

In the summer my siblings and I went into Leeds for a meal. I think that was the last time I went into a city. Like a country mouse I gaze up at the towering architecture, navigate the crowds of people and stare at the lights. Slightly in awe but leaving with almost immense relief.

My sister lives in Sheffield and my brother in Sydney so I am the country bumpkin of the three. I spend my days at home in a rural village in Yorkshire, tootling or pottering about the country roads (although probably not quite at that leisurely pace) as I pick the boys up from school and take them to activities, always feel I am running late and working at our shop in a nearby small town.

I like the slower rhythm and the quiet that comes with country living. The sculptor likes this too but sometimes he wonders if his career as a sculptor may have had a different pace had we been in London. He spent 8 days in London in September and this next month (November) is there almost every weekend collecting pieces from various locations.

Perhaps, inspired by the city landscape but also a  progression on from the calligraphy collection, into a new movement of geometric three-dimensional-drawings this sculpture below is one in a pair of cityscapes.

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Cityscape II by Sam Shendi 2018

I love how the shadows also cast a unique city skyline. The interplay of the vertical and horizontal lines causes each slight degree of movement to create a different vision, so every angle produces a new piece of sculpture and a new projected shadow.

The geometric, angular and straight lines within this piece is very much like my experience of being in a city. Striking and bold, dominating and  deliberate. As well as feeling excited and mesmerised, I can often feel overwhelmed and slightly confused in a city space. This sculpture beautiful captures all of that and then hidden within a secret. As so often is the way in cities, some little gem or oasis of tranquility.

In the sculpture the hidden secret is this angle (below).

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Character-by-character-Mandarin-Chinese-learning-Mountain-is-written-as山-shān-1
This direction or position gives us this, very clearly the Chinese symbol of mountain. Within any landscape there are hidden treasures, places to uncover. Even within the landscape of art. Art is no longer the traditional forms of paintings and sculpture. Art is a vehicle of ideas and philosophy. A way of communication, visual storytelling and ultimately a way for us all to exercise our imagination.

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Witnessing today

Galleries, Philosophy, Steel

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This collection represents 10 children aged between four and nineteen. Either standing individually as sculptures alone or as a collective in one large sculpture.

In this concept the presentation is the human body as a vessel. Living in the 21 century we are now able to replace human parts, organs change our physical appearance but this doesn’t change the essence of who we are.

Our bodies are containers filled with emotions that have an impact on us. The colours used on these pieces are inspired by American minimalism in the 1900’s. They symbolize the emotion and the individual.

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The sculptures are made from steel pipes used for building construction. The pipes sat in the studio staring at the sculptor and then the concept appeared. They were witnessing his actions. They are the human figure in the simplest form. Each piece has a name from the continents around the world, representing children who suffer directly or indirectly from the decisions and behaviour of adults. Which in turn affects them and their own experiences. What we witness or don’t witness in life shapes us and then make us who we are.

These columns are the bases of something, the foundations, pillars that hold up the building. Our children are the next generation, the future. What are they witnessing today?

The modern day is the witnessing of troubled times, but today specifically is a celebration of a legacy for millions around the world and a message for all of humanity.

“Witnesses” by Sam Shendi

Currently in exhibition at the ‘Adrien-Kavachinina Galleryreview of the exhibition and article to read in ‘Paris Match’ which the photo below was taken from.

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Symbolic sculpture forms signature

Colour, Philosophy, Steel
Signature 1

‘Signature’ by Sam Shendi, 2014

 

Language is symbolic. Words are symbols. Even our own signature becomes a symbol of ourselves. This new piece entitle ‘Signature’ is one of a collection in which my husband is focusing on the outline of the human figure, it is almost the abstraction of form. His own work becoming progressively more ‘abstracted’. Following a contour of the body producing a language of its own rather than creating a solid object. It is as I have mentioned before like a cursive writing style, a sculptural calligraphy. I have started reading around the subjects I am writing about in an endeavour to improve my writing and think about what direction to take my writing in.

So I have finished ‘Notes from an Exhibition’ by Patrick Gale I borrowed from the library alongside reading ‘The inspired heart’ by Jerry Wennstrom. On the subject of libraries we are lucky to have a library pull up practically in our back yard which means we visit every two weeks and drag a bag piled high with children’s books back up the path. We have done this since my eldest was a baby and consequently they both enjoy sitting and turning the pages, looking at the pictures absorbing the details. It is one of few things I am proud of instilling in them, if it lasts!  I enjoyed taking along my long list of books I had researched that might assist in my own creativity. However, they only had the one for now. The library is under threat though with ideas of community led ones. Why funding for libraries and librarians should be pulled makes no sense at all. We still need real books and real spaces.

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‘Signature’ the shadows playing part of the art

Abstract art a way forward or a dead-end? was my first art essay title I wrote during A-levels (many years ago) I loaned it to a student I worked with once and never got back which is a shame, it was before the digital days and so I no longer have any record of it. Perhaps it is no bad thing, it would just be sat in a plastic tub in the attic. Although there were some photos of my visits to galleries including my 17-year-old self stood proudly next to large Rothko. Currently ‘Whitechapel’ has an exhibition entitled ‘The adventures of the black square”  a journey of abstraction,  which if I could get to I probably would go and visit, but I got a nice flavour of from the ‘misadventures’ blog link above and also listening to the director’s introduction. The exhibition follows four themes, utopia, architectonic, communication and the everyday.  I definitely used to see abstract art as contemporary and new, as a progression  “a springboard for the imagining of new tomorrows” and “freeing art from the dead weight of the real word”. As the director, Iwona Blazwick introduces, “Geometric abstraction influenced around the world and was crucially linked with politics and society,”

Signature 2

‘Signature’

 

Signature 3

‘Signature’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Abstraction’, whatever the word means has certainly influenced and is increasingly used in this ‘dehumanized digital age’ we live in. Now I wonder how far this abstraction  has led us. For me, I feel I am going in a full circle with it, on a journey as I learn more about art and sculpture. My husband’s work offers a simple solution. Although the work is rarely as simple as it seems. It is the abstraction but with the humanity. It has the modernity in colour and the spirituality in meaning. I have started to think even more about words, the meaning and the choice of words. “Language is marvelous powerful tool” I heard this recently on the radio 4 programme ‘Life in Suburbia’.  It is an important addition to abstract art, many people needing the addition of words to hang along side the ‘black square’ or the large canvases of pure colour.

Signature 4

Part of the ‘Body Language’ collection

So to add some words to this piece. To many it may still seem completely abstract, a wavy whirl of colour. Even if that is what you see, it is visually appealing, there is a harmony and a high aesthetic quality to the piece. It is still however, the contour of the human form. In this image above the ‘green’ forms the head and arm. The ‘red’ the back and leg. Sit and stare at this one a while and you may start to see it. The fact that each image above creates its own unique shadow and picture in itself is an art. Seeing it in reality in its true three-dimensional form adds to the experience. The image below shows it in situ and the realisation of the scale of it is perhaps enlightening, smaller than the blank white back drop suggests. My husband’s sculptures all have the will to grow and they would look so amazing on a huge scale in the centre of a town square or in the fields of a sculpture park. This is the next dream.  In a world where we text and tweet and use words often devoid of meaning. This sculpture embodies meaning of living in the dystopian present.

Signature at 88 wood street

On display at 88 Wood Street, London

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from a different angle

 

 

 

 

 

Hollow Man

Colour, Philosophy, Soul searching, Steel
body lang 2

‘Body Language’

This outline flows likes a ribbon, so curvaceous . It is a simply stunning piece. A beautiful start to a new collection of work entitled ‘Body Language’. It looks to me like a candy cane, you can imagine licking it and tasting different flavours depending on where your tongue touched.

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‘Body Language’

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‘Body Language’

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‘Body Language’

The shadows created also provide images in themselves. To the untrained eye, perhaps the figures is not as easy to see in this piece as in the more geometric structures of his work. However, this piece combines both what has been my husbands preoccupation structurally with ‘outline’ and minimising the human form and the exploration of the philosophical questions of human essence and ideas of the body as a vessel.

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‘Body Language’

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‘Body Language’

Stripping away at the content to make a sculptural outline of the figure, like a line drawing in three dimensions. This new work is about the abandoning of body and focusing purely on the line or edge of ourselves.  Which leaves the subject as hollow. Man is essentially hollow. If we imagine that the body is a container, then it needs filling. We naturally search to fill the void, to find substitutes for that hollow space. The tragedy of the modern age is that we fill ourselves with everything that distracts us from where we need to look to find real satisfaction.

You can currently see this piece along with a number of other pieces at ‘Forsters’, City Park, Bradford, Yorkshire.

Journeys

Making, Philosophy, Soul searching, Steel

…..And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The Robert Frost poem ‘The road not taken’ has always been one of my favourites, “I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference could be an epithet of my husband’s and mine. It is starting to become clearer that the creative process is a journey. Not that we didn’t know that, but we are at point where we can reflect backwards and look forwards more. My husband’s work is truly evolving, progressing in a way which seems meant to be.

His work started in clay, because that was what we could afford and with space limitations, the scale we could manage. So his hands gave form to clay.

'image from one of my very first blog entries of the making process'

‘image from one of my very first blog entries of the making process’

clay work

‘Early Clay work’

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‘Mother & Child’, example of the focus on outline

He always talked to me about his attempts to produce an outline.  Distinctly remembering a co-student at university who was doing beautiful paintings but putting a black line around everything, when the tutor had commented that, that isn’t how we see things, the student replied back , it was how he saw things. Thus began my husband’s obsession with trying to create the black outline of a 3D object. Almost an annihilation of the body and form and a preoccupation of what makes it so. Theses paintings show the idea and the exploration of that a line gives.

painting outline

Mother and Child painting

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‘Black outline with colour’

My own personal spiritual journey mirrors that of the sculptural journey,  removing the focus on our body and form and seeking a deeper meaning and purpose to this life. So with the clay sculptures it was very much about the light and shadow and minimising the human form with curvature. With a little bit of expansion into wood, he developed a series of wooden forms with small figurines exploring the human condition but still looking at the idea of the outline that was being created. The more we strip away at our own personal desires and take away the superficial aims of money and materials, what are we here for?

‘Wood and figurine’

As a teenager my time working in a nursing home for the elderly gave me a stark reality that the time here is fleeting and that in old age we physically become a shadow of ourselves in youth. There must be a deeper meaning to it all. As we verge on the cusp of our spiritual retreat, precious days to focus on our hearts. Time to reassess, re-prioritize and recognize the most important things in our lives.  To understand what we are doing here. “Where, then, are you going?”

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‘at a crossroads’

With the meeting of a steel fabricator there was movement into a new medium, enabling the shape of the human figure to be minimised more. In almost a fusion of the clay work and the wooden work a new series was created. The light and shadow create the outline in much of this pyramidal and obelisk work.

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‘Steel minimisation of the human form’

The addition of colour became a uniting tool for the journey of sculptures and enabled another layer of meaning to be visual presented. Emotions and ideas, the sculptures now in a state of consciously making us ask questions.

family tree

‘Family Tree’

‘Souls’ became the laconic title of the next body of work but in this case the souls of sculptures compressed into the minimal form. If our human body is like the clay then the soul is a distinct other entity within the human framework and has three states of existence, base desire, that which our bodies need to survive, secondly the soul in a state of consciousness when we start questioning and discerning and a final stage  where one is at peace and rest. The purification and development from the first to the third is a life long pursuit. A wrestling between each stage, a honing and a shaping of our inner reality.

Evolution and maquette

‘Evolution’ maquette and final piece

Stripping the figure right down to its most minimalistic form resulted in the ‘Evolution’ both in the title of this piece and the progression into a new theme of work. In keeping with the philosophy of our bodies being merely a vessel for the energy that makes us. What are we without our bodies. Taking away the matter, the material and focusing on what gives us shape.

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‘Wedding Dress’ combination of minimal form and mannequin parts

The college effect of using steel and mannequin parts also another part of the journey that came about from the idea of mixing both realism and minimalism together. It can sometimes be a struggle, living in day-to-day reality whilst maintaining a connection with an unseen reality but the reward is endless.

‘The Smoker’ became a turning point for a new idea. Using car exhaust parts to form an idea, an outline.

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‘smoker’

In nature there is no outline, all that is created is seen by what appears in front or behind. What is the reality of what we are seeing? We only see an edge because of the layers of things. So the line of the house I see outside the window is only visible because of the clouds behind it. In these images of new work not yet finished (so a sneak preview) the beginning of a new stage in the development of the sculptural journey can be seen. A new material enabled an exploration of ideas, in full circle a return to the initial curvature and idea of line . It redefines or explores further the idea of the outline, taking it to the next level in abandoning the matter within completely and focusing purely on the edge.

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‘Sketch and parts’

'Sketch and line'

‘Sketch and Line’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This reflects the spiritual journey of focusing on our true self, the ethereal essence within us which ultimately outlasts the earthen vessel carrying us throughout this realm of our existence and onto the next. It is certainly a way of seeing the world, both as a sculptor and following a spiritual path, a gift I am eternally grateful for. In a fitting completion to this entry yesterday the sculptor discovered a new dimension to this new work which symbolically connects the two, but I shall leave that to write about once the sculpture is complete and our spiritual retreat which we are about to embark on has ended.

body movement

‘Body Movement’

‘Body Movement I’ outside casting a shadow

Ego, I go, grammar goes…

Publications, Steel

I don’t know if  ‘Ego, I go, grammar goes’ makes any sense, but as a title it sounded good to me. Spelling and grammar have never been my strong point. Perhaps I just keep telling myself that in order to remain lazy and nonchalant about it. Methodological thinking is not how my brain seems to work. I need to start making a conscious attempt to self correct and proof read a little more. It  annoys me when I see, ‘you’re’ and ‘your’ and ‘their’ and ‘there’ misused. So it’s quite worrying that I myself am doing it. There is obviously, therefore a handful of readers browsing my posts and pulling the grimace on their faces that I sometimes do. I guess it is a lesson in placing judgment. We should never judge others or criticise others of  behaviours or actions when we ourselves are not perfect. “When we think we’re perfect, we expect perfection from others. When we start to recognize our own weaknesses, we begin to be more forgiving of the weaknesses in others”. Yasmin Mogahed. So I apologies for my grammatical mistakes and that the grammar goes.. out of the window sometimes in my writing.

So in keeping with bad grammar…’I go’ everywhere yesterday looking for a magazine. Supermarkets, newsagent, shops and none of them have it. I then had an idea of going into a coffee shop and seeing if they have a copy. They have a stack and kindly give me three. As I walk back to the car flicking through it, I can’t find what I am looking for. I look back at the front cover. June 2014. It is June but perhaps I am needing the July issue. I give up and return home. All of this because that morning I bumped into a friend who tells me what really good coverage and images of my husband’s work.  I am not sure what she is talking about and then she explains he is in a local magazine. At home, I  casually tell my husband over brunch forgetting the ‘artist ego’ and so then he phones a friend to find out where we can get a copy, texts the photographer who writes back “it’s really good, I’ll drop a copy to you this week”. “This week” the sculptor can’t wait a moment longer. So I offer, I must make clear and I go on a hunt even though for me I only half understand the urgency. The artist ego has fully kicked in. “Ego might seem self centred but artists and writers need buoyant egos to go on working” Elizabeth Baines. 

I wrote the above this morning whilst my husband stood outside our business and two ladies boldly walked past with a ream of magazines distributing them to local business. I then had to wait until this evening to see it and read it.  Entitled “Body Art, a West Yorkshire sculptor is making a name for himself with head-turning works”.It’s an amazing three page spread with great images and lots of details and promotion. Even with a strip line on the front cover “Man of Steel” talk about massaging the ego and reinforcing the boys opinion of Baba! A few facts not quite right but ultimately a great piece. It even gives this site a little promotion, “Sam is married to a writer, who he says is “wholly supportive of my work” Her lively blog ‘The Sculptor’s Wife’ shares news about his work, as well as family life with Sam and their two sons”. In reading that it definitely buoyed up my ego though seeing the words ‘married to a writer” in black and white print feels a bit fraudulent. At what point do you become a writer? Can a writer own up to having have bad grammar? So, perhaps the ‘Ego’ is not a bad thing. Bad grammar, maybe.

 

Yorkshire Living, complimentary magazine (July 2014 edition) :

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In the news..

Colour, Connections, Exhibitions, Galleries, Steel

other art fair

This was the stand at ‘The Other Art Fair’ this weekend which has been a busy few days for both of us for different reasons. Last night when I was tidying up the house after being busy with the boys for the weekend my husband phoned to say he was finally on his way home and also to tell me about his interview.

Tracey Emin selling works for £50 was a little bit controversial, for some her presence pulled in the crowd but if people were spending and buying her work rather than the 100 picked artists there to sell and promote then it half defeated the point. Anyway,

If you are not too squeamish to watch the taxidermy which really doesn’t do it for me, continue watching to spot the stand in the footage below and a bit further on hear my husband’s interview with CNN at about 2 min 12. I am very proud and quite excited to find out more details about selling some pieces in the last 15 minutes of the 3 day event!

Also images in the local news in the feature:

Keighley News: Bespoke Art nod to Tour  so again, if you are not London-based take a trip to Damside Mill in Haworth.

The Family

Colour, Connections, Relationships, Steel
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‘The Family’

This piece is the third in the series ‘Beginnings’ and entitled ‘The Family’ included as the start of community, the point from which generations follow. The beginnings of so many events, feelings, memories, a microcosm of the world.

In recent days I have felt for those families affected by the missing plane in Malaysia. The impact on relatives of those sentenced in Egypt. The families suffering in Syria. When a catastrophe hits an individual it has repercussions on the whole family.

This piece depicts the connection between Father, Mother, Child. The precarious nature of this is visual and from one angle we see Mother and Child with only the thin line of ‘Father’ and from the other angle ‘The Father’ is dominant. The idea that genetic character traits we inherit from our parents and grandparents in some fashion shape who we are.

'The Family' (Mother and Child)

‘The Family’ (Mother and Child)

The Family is a complex and intricate balance. As a unit it encompasses all the emotions we can feel. Individual families can be so different and  diametrically so similar.  Within our own family unit, the fact that we are mixed culture makes this very interesting to experience and learn from, both shared and different values and traditions. For a while I thought this was unique but actually with  increased discussions with families even where both parents are from the same country a difference in backgrounds and upbringing can create stumbling blocks and need for comprises when children become that shared responsibility.

For me the colour in this piece also has some meaning, the connection between the Mother’s head as yellow and the child as yellow displaying the way a mother’s mind is preoccupied with her child but also the vision of hope for the future, for the next generation. The peaceful white body of the mother connected to the father with ‘red’ for passion, love, heat, anger, attention, warmth, protection. The symbolism of this simplistically and elegantly piece shows all this as it portrays the ‘family unit’

'The Family'

‘The Family’

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The Family’

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‘The Family Unit’

 

Mother and Child II

Colour, Mother and Child, Relationships, Steel
mother and child 7

”Mother and Child”

In the new series, ‘beginnings’ we have another Mother and Child. It is a subject which has been continuously treated in the history of art and  the origins interestingly go back to predynastic Egypt. Perhaps this interest has genetically been placed in my husband’s subconscious.  It then mainly had associations with religious depiction and set formal arrangement and placement of ‘Mother’ and her child. Later there were the conventions of the time period that governed how paintings and sculptures would portray the subject of motherhood but mostly of the ‘happy mother’.

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‘Mother and Child”

Today with almost ultimate freedom to express, we have this minimalistic colourist version. With this, as the viewer we can bring our own interpretations. The cut out circle mimicking the sphere shape balancing on the edge of the leg, as though babe has been within the mother but then taken and placed most precariously in the mother’s trust.

"Mother and Child"

“Mother and Child”

I love the sense of balance in this piece and in this images how the sphere, representing the child is the dominant component. The mother is the structure, the firm base sending this confident solid new ‘object’ off into the world. I also love the way the whole design of ‘the mother’ is two parts, splitting herself in two as she keeps the ‘child’ on her knee on one side and her many other roles on the other.

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“Mother and Child”

I have discovered I have two earlier entries both called balance about balance within life and motherhood, both an art in their own right. I thought I’d been quite clever at coming up with different titles, I wonder how many other repetitions I have made. However, life is about repetition especially as a Mother. The amount of times we do the same thing over and over again and sometimes I wonder why, but in my more philosophical moments there is beauty in repetition. The repeated patterns within this series of work pays homage to that. I believe we can, by making small seemingly meaningless task, make a difference to ourselves.

mother and child 2

“Mother and Child”

The use of the colour is also important to me in this piece as the strong red legs tell of the strength of womanhood, the quiet suffering and yet at the same time the beauty as though still managing to wear ‘red stilettos’ whilst juggling everything else life has given her, and again the circles and sphere add to this visual analogy.

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“Mother and Child”

The blue head (the mother’s mind) connects to the blue sphere (the child), as the mother’s preoccupation is so often of her child. The use of blue for the Mother’s head could also give reference to post natal depression which is a very different side to Motherhood that is not often depicted in the art of the past. The shadows that this piece creates, in themselves make hauntingly beautiful images of ‘Mother and Child’.

"Mother and child"

“Mother and child”

Making a Statement

Colour, Making, Steel

Despite my last entry on not being able to write, I have been using what creative energies I have to put together this ‘statement’. I can’t take full credit and say it is my own words though, it is a rehash of things several others have written about my husband’s work. Things he said he wanted to include and a few sentences taken from here or there. Not sure if that is plagiarism mixed up together I think we have finally got a good ‘Artist Statement’. We have had several over the last few years that have almost been right but I think this one finally sums up the work we have to date.

It has now been uploaded on to the website http://www.samshendi.co.uk and we are now up and running on The Royal British Society of Sculptors profile . So we have made progress behind the scenes.

ARTIST STATEMENT

Graduating in 1997 with a first class BA degree with honors from Helwen University of Fine Arts in Cairo, Egyptian born sculptor Sam Shendi creates joyfully coloured abstractions of the human figure which, with the subtlest of indicators, hints at the complexity of human interactions.

Shendi’s works references the work of “minimalism”, the style of paring-down design elements and focusing on the medium of steel, aluminum and paint. Some of his works are deceptively simple in form but include the qualities of metaphorical associations, symbolism and suggestions of spiritual transcendence, which is what the artist of the 60’s and 70’s were trying to avoid.

His works whittles down the human figure to its simplest form enabling the exploration of the idea of the human form as a vessel. So by reducing the human body to a container or minimal shape, his creations become centered on an emotion or an expression. The simplicity is no longer the end result and devoid of meaning but a revelation of a hidden truth and intellectual expression.

Shendi’s work, therefore takes a fine line between representation and abstraction. Whilst he appreciates the abstract form his interest is in the human and psychological dimensions to his sculptures. Stripping human nature down to its essence, and then expressing it in a sculptural language.

Firmly based in modernist morphology his colorful architectural forms abbreviate the human figure and nod to his background in monumental sculpture and interior design. Shendi juxtaposes cartoonish lemon, ultraviolet and pumpkin-coloured blocks, conjuring associations with children’s toys and industrial design and lending his pieces an emotive and playful quality. His candy-coated palette animates the archetypal themes he addresses in his work. Assisted by the use of colour to deceive the eye, flouting a sense of gravity and taking the attention away from the material also gives the work a strong optical impact.

Sometimes we may feel the tension which despite their moderate size almost bear a ‘’will to grow’’ into monuments that we could easily imagine standing in the center of any city or landscape. Pieces balance between public art, sculptural and on the border of design.

With laconic titles his work takes on themes both in subject and style and it is clear to see pieces that group together in an exploration of an idea. They form a visual story and a unique style. There is always one important element, functioning as a keystone connecting all his creation – the theme of a human being in his most genuine form. Shendi always develops his creation around subjects, which are common, understandable and important to all of us, no matter what our taste, age or cultural background may be.

Describing himself as a figurative sculptor it is important to Shendi that the work, however minimalistic still has an impact on the viewer visually and emotionally. Recognizing his work as both literally geometric forms and industrial materials but also with additional meaning in bringing back the idea of traditional academic sculpture of humanity and emotion, results in a distinctive blend of modernity and timelessness.

'Red'

‘Red’

blue

‘Blue’