“What you see is what you see”

collections, Colour, Connections, Old Masters

CS1

“A sculpture is just a painting cut out and stood up somewhere.”

 I’ve used this quote from Frank Stella before but it is so apt for this piece particularly. It harps back to the minimalists of the 1960’s who were looking at the basic elements of an artwork; colour, shape, composition and within that the principles of line, plane, volume, point and space. Cityscape II is the second in a pair within a collection called ‘The harmony between vertical and horizontal”. Interestingly the relationship between vertical and horizontal is that they are opposing elements, they are opposed by nature. This is a study of  the harmony that lies between those oppositions.

How often do we oppose things which causes conflict and dissolution. If instead we look at how contrast can work together to a mutual benefit. I often think of myself and my husband like this. My eldest son asked me one morning what is was about ‘Baba’ that made me know he was my husband. I said, “because he is everything I am not”.

Last week I wrote about visiting the city with my siblings. This week it was half term, hence the later posting and I’ve experienced more conflict between my boys this week. Each age and stage producing their own challenges. I took the boys into the city as we needed to return something. Doubly stressful. One almost fainted in the first shop and we had to pay extra to get on the train because our tickets were off peak! Despite the bickering and managing the crowds and changes int temperature from outdoors to inside we almost had a good time! Interesting, my youngest observed that there were more poor people in the city. There are definitely more juxtapositions to see in the city than the country.

In ‘What you see is what you see: Donald Judd and Frank Stella on the End of painting in 1966’ ,  question the qualities of painting and what painting is, promoting the idea of “A trend towards simpler painting” and a connection between the European geometric painters. Stella is likened to Mondrian and he dismisses this saying he felt he was more like Vasarely. Similarly, I would say that this new piece isn’t a sculpture trying to be a Mondrian in three dimensions but that it is a sculpture that  nods to the minimalists, those eternal elements that artists are exploring, playing and discovering. It is in itself the beauty of sculpture as a three dimensional art piece and the shapes and colours echoing those of Mondiran’s famous abstract paintings. If we look at each angle of this sculpture it is constructed, created, envisioned in form, space and order.

At the time when the minimalists were practicing they put forwarded their simpler approach paralleled by more complicated styles at the time. Perhaps similarly, with the art world today in an era of ‘objects’ and philosophy out weighing the craftsmanship, the sculptor – in this case my husband, is responding to that with highly polished, highly finished, and well designed sculptures. They are “works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power” -which is ultimately the definition of art.

 

 

Cityscape II. Sam Shendi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fragile mind, fragile heart, fragile world.

Colour, Connections, Philosophy, Soul searching

 

 

 

Often my husband uses different colours for the feet or legs, perhaps to be different. In this sculpture though the socks and body are covered in multi coloured hearts.

The boys went to school in odd socks…actually as I write that, I am wondering if the youngest one forgot that part of the criteria, too busy assembling his ripped jeans and leather jacket for non-uniform day. The eldest forgot the £1 donation and we got grid locked in traffic. So it wasn’t the most peaceful start to World Mental Health day but the sunshine quickly came out and a beautiful walk with my mum brought about the peace. Mental health isn’t just one day though, it is all the time. There has been a real push in the last couple of years to spread awareness, raise awareness and promote well-being. I think the business of work, life and technology and over stimulation of all out senses hinders our appreciation of small things and the ability to slow down. Although there is a real rise and reason in slow living and slowing down.

A number of sculptures that my husband has made delves into mental health issues. The entire ‘Mother and Child’ collection looked into the idea of depression within motherhood. The giant series we think was made through a period of time when my husband was working through a period of depression. These hand carved pieces a raw therapy in physical labour.

Oceans full of plastic, de-forestation and over farming, we take for granted the earth’s resources. There is an increase in natural disasters (although is this just a result of global communication and reporting). The world is fragile.

This piece is the second full size horse that the sculptor has created and part of a  reoccurring theme with pieces such as ‘Troy’, ‘The Ride’ and ‘Mane’ and other smaller pieces. This one is imposing (see image below of sculptor next to sculpture) also impressive but the delicate hearts soften it suggesting the fragility and  a femininity on an otherwise masculine looking sculpture. The horse is recognised for strength and resilience and yet there is also fragility. A vulnerability when they are no longer used for the purpose for which they are kept.

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‘Fragile’ by Sam Shendi. 2018

fragile scale

Sculptor with Sculpture to show scale

This sculpture also acts as a pair to ‘Defeated Butterflies’, the bull, which went to South Africa. The difference with this piece is the cone-shaped head, a use of abstraction but with meaning. The triangle is a symbol of stability with an aim of reaching the top yet turned to the side suggest a risk, an unbalance. Furthermore, used as a trinity in Christianity and in Ancient Egyptian mysticism. Perhaps in this case, mental, spiritual and emotional well-being. The geometric red block with straight and angular lines contrasts to the curvaceous form of the body softened with the dancing coloured hearts representing our emotions. The heart is caged within the ribs yet still gets broken. The heart is fragile no matter what strength or powerful body is encasing it.

Emotions are powerful and affect our thoughts. We are what we think. The mind is a powerful thing and we can get caught up in over thinking and ego. We can smile but bite away tears. We can be determined but feel doubtful.  If we were all more holistic, happier and healthy perhaps the earth itself would be stronger. Just as our thinking can affect our well-being perhaps our general well being affects the consciousness of the earth.

Checklist to think about this weekend to improve mental health:

  1. Sleep
  2. Cut out Caffeine
  3. Be active
  4. Do something for someone else
  5. Eat well
  6. Get some sunshine/Time outdoors
  7. Stay Social
  8. Keep an eye on unhealthy habits
  9. Manage Stress
  10. Have fun.

p.s. Technology is also fragile. I had to completely re-write this as somehow the scheduling didn’t work and neither did it save it.Grrrrrr. Not sure it is as well written this time but I have managed to re-do it at least and get it posted on Friday!Fragile 1

 

 

 

How to understand the mind of a sculptor

collections, Colour, Making

Mademoiselle 1

How do you see this sculpture? What do you see?

An abstract form? An insect, some kind of creature? An Alien? A landscape? Or something from your own imagination?

Whatever you see, you see something, you think about something, you remember something?

Frank Stella famously quoted that, “Sculpture is just a painting cut out and stood some where”. This quote I think could sum up my husband’s work. They are like three dimensional canvases. This piece particularly feels that way.

The other evening at the kitchen table, we had finished our supper and were chatting over a hot cup of tea. The last few days had been hot but the cool evening breeze had lowered and the hot tea felt magic.

It’s those little moments, subtle but memorable. When I asked my husband about this piece and he spoke and I wished I had recorded it.

For him, he has the idea, a shape, a concept in his mind. It is completely carved from every angle. He turns it around in his minds eye. Once complete he sets to work. The form then inspires the colour and like a painted canvas he then wraps it around the sculpture like gift wrapping a present , tight to the edges of the shape.

“Mademoiselle” 2017. Rudimentary Collection. Sam Shendi

This piece is a female form, a young woman experimenting with different hues, finding her true colours. She struts her stuff, thin not yet shaped by life or motherhood. It reminds me of A few days I spent in Paris in my early twenties by myself with my camera, taking back and white photos, not really appreciating the time, the freedom and the vitality I had.

For most of us our minds work in thoughts, ideas, imagination, maybe each one of us thinks different. Perhaps we all are the same. But to go that next step and create something not seen before is unique. That’s why (following on from my last post about SATS and Education) what we learn in school or the test scores don’t relate to our true potential.

Artists don’t need to create a realistic version of something these days. We have cameras and videos for record. To create something inspiring, memorable, colourful yet captures movement, form, beauty is the skill of a true sculptor.

Sculptural sins of the soul with gossip girl and brutish back biter into mortal flesh.

collections, Philosophy, Soul searching

Back biter 2I’m going for a catchy title, I played around with it and I am not really sure it makes any sense. Anyway, if you’ve ever seen any of the Alien film series, especially the latest one you might think this has come out of it. It is defiantly ones of the most unusual pieces in my husband’s collection. Although it is meaty. The teeth here are so clear,  dominant and like the hostile life forms of  ‘Alien: Covenant’, back biting breeds.

Last week after out road trip we had our bi-annual trip to the Dentist. Our youngest asked the Dentist directly, why don’t we come more regularly. I am so grateful for out teeth and gum health but he may have slightly tempted fate as the Dentist told me that both boys will need braces once all their adult teeth have come through. There is something about the mouth that symbolises a vulnerability. “Teeth as a symbol might imply inner aspects of ourselves that we don’t recognize, possibly the ego is being provoked or challenged”(Dream Dictionary.org). But we do need to look closely at ourselves.

This sculpture is an abstraction, but the teeth are in this case biting itself. The idea that speaking about others behind their backs is as abhorrent as “eating the flesh of ones dead brother.” It may seem like a gruesome subject but it is one which is evidently breeding today.

Perhaps the three legs in this sculptural piece depict the three birds shot with a single arrow in the Chronicles of Lorraine. Godefroy de Bouillon , Duke of Lorraine besieged the city of Jerusalem by a shot of an arrow at the tower of David and three birds were pierced with the single arrow. This event became a prophecy of the royal dignity and the meaning was taken as ” Whoever back bites someone shoots a flaming arrow and wounds three people at once: himself, his listener and his adversary.” The back-biter corrupts the ears of the one listening to the gossip, the backbiter themselves become known for taking about others and the one whom they are speaking badly of. “Rather, he commits a triple murder, for we all have three lives: the life of the soul, which is the fruit of grace; the life of the body, which we hold in common with animals; and our social life, which depends upon our good name. Now, the backbiter attacks these three lives. He attacks the life of soul and body in himself and in his listener, and he attacks the social life of the person he backbites. Such are the evils that backbiting breeds.”

I think my husband made this with the idea and the visual images of how woman historically have been known to gossip. However, in today’s society I think men and woman do it just as much as each other. With social media and the volume of information we put out in cyber world about ourselves and our lives, we play into that field of talking about others and not directly to them. Thomas Aquinas classified it as a mortal sin. “The back-biter does the most harm to himself, for the stone he casts at another will almost always fall back upon his head”. (Artabanus, Apud Herod, Book 7). Back biting isn’t good for us or a healthy past-time.

There is still an elegance to this piece, literally as I write, has just been requested for a stunning outdoor setting (more to follow). Teeth look powerful and aggressive where as our tongue sensitive and we might think more sensual  but it is out tongues we need to be wary of. As with most of the sculptor’s work there is a meaning and a message to the work. “If you examine yourself well, you will never back-biter others.”
(Saint Bernard,e inter. Dom, Chapter 42)

Back Biter, Rudimentary Collection 2017.

 

Example of minimising with meaning

collections, Colour, Conceptual, Connections, Making

After posting my last blog entry I realised I had left out a really important image of a piece which sums up the  ‘Less is more idea’. So to follow on from Friday’s post:

thinker

‘Thinker’ (2007)

When asked to choose a favourite piece the sculptor often  settles for this piece; inspired by two of his favourite artists Rodin and Mondrian. After making this piece he realised he was influenced by both artists and the architecture of the 60’s. “The concept of minimalist architecture is to strip everything down to its essential quality and achieve simplicity. The idea is not completely without ornamentation, but that all parts, details, and joinery are considered as reduced to a stage where no one can remove anything further to improve the design.”

I think these words echo truth concerning this sculpture and many of the others, “no one can remove anything further to improve the design.”

This piece is entitled ‘The Thinker’, harps back to the old masters but brings a unique contemporary style for today. It combines the fascination of the piece, ‘The Thinker’ by Rodin and the abstractions of Mondrian.

Ad Reinhart remarked, “The more stuff in it, the busier the work of art, the worse it is. More is less. Less is more. The eye is a menace to clear sight. The laying bare of oneself is obscene. Art begins with the getting rid of nature.
The use of colour is with purpose, the bright yellow represents the spark of an idea, a light bulb moment enhancing the idea of ‘The Thinker’. So whilst this piece strips back all the details of the human body, it still provokes thought, meaning and symbolism.

A description about how the ‘calligraphy collection’ came about

collections

 

The start of this concept began whilst drawing figurative sketches, practising with paper and pencil. Looking at the sketches there was a realisation that the outline can be the sculpture its self rather than the volume within. Knowing that an outline does not naturally exist and we only see things because of what is behind it, therefore the idea of this collection is to create a non-existing outline with an existing form. Like some painters started to use a black outline round their realistic paintings. Like if you imagine the painting without the content and only the black outline.
Focusing on the outline  stainless steel pipes were manipulated to keep form and create abstraction.  They looks like words. Born and raised in Egypt, when my husband sees them he can see the Arabic words. With a small manipulation to the outline actually the piece casts a shadow of obvious words recognised by the eye. Looking at the work through a camera’s eye, shows  that the shadow and reflection of the sculptures itself writes Arabic words but still the form is, as a sculpture.

Perhaps, the viewer will only see abstract shapes but this collection is the outline of classical forms. This displays the journey and connection between classical sculpture and abstraction. It is all one form it just depends on how the artist presents it. It is a natural progression from formal sculpture to simplification.

So through the process and progress a combination of sculptural form and language appears. The addition of the colour and the shadows, which cast on the walls and on the floors, still influences the concept.

From simply a visual connection to the mysterious words hidden within. Endless ideas can come out of this theme.
So the words can describe form and still maintain human form. Colour in all the themes describe emotion, movement, and experience and is a description of the motivation behind the piece.

Sculptures in the Calligraphy collection

calligraphy 5

The Portrait

calligrapgy 7

‘Madame Butterfly’

calligraphy 15

Mother and child

caigraphy 11

Body Language

Calligraphy 1

Signature

calligrapgy 14

‘Memories’

calligrapgy 3 calligrapgy 6 calligraphy 10 calligraphy 12
calligraphy 16
calligraphy 17

 

‘Departed’

Uncategorized

departed departed 1 departed 2 departed 3 departed 4 departed 6 departed 7 departed 8

I typed ‘Departed’ and just saw ‘dead’ written next to it. Very final. I had been thinking more along the lines of ’embarking on a journey’ or ‘leaving the station’ – that kind of departed. The film, ‘The Departed’ perhaps. The lamb I saw in the road today, very much alive and annoying the farmer had departed from the field. Hadn’t it? It wasn’t dead, anyway – not yet.

Last week I ‘departed’ facebook for a month. Now I am wondering whether to completely come off it or will I slip back into the addictive social scrolling. Perhaps my internet persona on facebook is dead? In a world where we increasingly spend more time in a virtual reality, what becomes real and not real, what is seen and unseen? I won’t know how many facebook hits I get on this post. Will that bother me? Does it make it less real that people could potentially be reading my little blog post. Does it even matter if anyone is reading it. Not really, I guess.

Departing social media really is a tenuous link to this piece and doesn’t do it justice. What matters in the end is the good we leave behind in the world after we have departed. And when we have departed, where are you going? So ponder these ideas whilst you look at the shape, the line, the curve, the balance, the colour and particularly the shadows. Abstraction can be based on reality, just broken down to the very minimal and it is up to the viewer to see beyond. To visualise the deeper meaning of what is in front of you and find the unseen.

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.

Signaturye 6

‘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

signature 5

from a different angle