It was a potent time for creative explorations. Inspired by Sri Chaitanya’s bhakti1 movement, people were in search of newer ways to forge ties – between themselves, between the self and the universe and beyond. 16th century Bengal2 was experiencing a resurgence which not only prompted poets and artists to find various forms of expressions, but also resulted in a rapid development of its own language. Architects and sculptors of the era grabbed this opportunity to create some of the finest works of terracotta art.
Brad Spencer is a forerunner among the artists who explored the potential of creating brick sculptures in recent times. In fact he dedicated three decades of his life in perfecting his skills at this not–so–usual–art form. Due to the nature of the work, brick sculptures are particularly suited for public art projects. Many prominent landmarks of Reidsville, North Carolina, where the artist lives, and beyond are now adorned with Brad’s sculptural essays. The visual lyricism of his art is self evident.
Creating exquisite pieces of sculptures, including bas reliefs, of bricks is actually an age old process with an illustrious history dating back to 575 BC. The Ishtar Gate, reconstructed and preserved, is a proud possession of Pergamon Museum, Berlin. But many who visit the museum to observe this architectural marvel do not seem to recognise the fact that this monument, dedicated to goddess Ishtar, is made entirely of bricks. Numerous rows of golden lions, dragons, aurochs and floral motifs studding the gate are nothing but carved bricks sculpted out of the blocks of clay glazed in an ethereally azure tone. Babylonians were responsible for elevating brick sculptures to an art form. Artists and craftsmen of Babylon must have captivated Ishtar, the deity of love in Sumer and Babylon, with such an offering. Brick sculpture did not enjoy such exalted status after Babylon suffered cruel blows into the hands of time.
A glance over Kris Kuksi’s mixed-media assemblage and sculptures reveals his faithfulness towards classical form without ignoring the plight of modern time. For example, his sculptural piece, Unveiled Obscurity to be exhibited in Joshua Liner Gallery, NY, is inspired heavily by the master sculptors, like, Giovanni Strazza and Raffaelle Monti, of a bygone era. But, beneath the surface of the artistic intricacy and a perceived serenity lies the seething rage and mournful sighs of contemporary world. Kris Kuksi collects wood, metal and other materials from all over the world to create his ornate pieces. Much like the raw materials themselves the subjects of his artwork also resonate deep into the hearts of a global audience.
Kris Kuksi was born on 2nd March, 1973 in Missouri. He received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Studio Painting from Fort Hays State University, 2002. His work is exhibited in a number of galleries including Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery and is collected by the likes of Guillermo del Toro and Robin Williams.
Ben Hammond’s interest in artistic pursuits did commence early in his life. Born in 1977, Ben spent early childhood in Pingree, Idaho. He graduated with a degree in illustration from Ricks College. However, it is his fondness of creating sculptural pieces that became evident with every passing day. He won both reputation and accolades through his sculptural work. The lost art of creating reliefs has also received a revival through his work. His efforts in this regard gained recognition and he was awarded the Dexter Jones Award for bas–relief from The National Sculpture Society, 2008 – 2010. He is also the recipient of Charlotte Geffken Prize, Brookgreen Gardens, 2010.
Ben Hammond’s work is not only an elaboration of human forms through sculpture but rather a vessel for storing and expressing the deepest thoughts that lurk within. The bronze models seem to expose their throbbing crimson heart to the audience to behold; they even grant a share of emotions to the audience for their beauty is forever imprinted in the mind’s eye of the viewers.
The quietness of the studio is only interrupted by the sounds made by the pieces of steel producing a strange symphony. Occasional flashes of light produced by the welding torch flood the area. Andy Scott is intently engaged at his work. He is busy with his next project, galvanising a piece of dream to define the urban landscape.
The sculptor from Maryhill, Scotland graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 1986 with a BA Hons in Fine Art Sculpture and earned a Diploma in Postgraduate Studies in 1987. Since, early days of his creative journey his works imbibed not only the myths of the land but also depicted larger than life imagery. His work ‘The Kelpies’ have travelled thousand miles across the Atlantic to be displayed in Chicago Sculpture International, 2012. ‘Those lumbering horses in the steady plough / On the bare field - I wonder, why, just now / They seemed terrible, so wild and strange / Like magic power on the stony grange,’ lingering in his ears Andy however, does not have time for resting on the laurels. He is busy weaving utopia with steel, fibre glass and cast bronze for now.