Dutch artist Woody van Amen studied at the Rotterdam Academy and taught there from 1970 onwards. He was a pioneer of abstract assemblage sculpture and pop art in its materialized concrete form. In 1961, he spent the entire year and the following year residing in America. Van Amen was able to draw inspiration from the legendary pop artist Andy Warhol during his stay in the United States. This gave him the thrust he needed to manifest his pursuit for pop art in sculpture. He came to the Netherlands after this trip and began working on his own style of assemblage sculpture. Despite his current popularity, he started out as humble as artists go by. One of his first works; Electric Chair (1964) wasn’t considered as art by the public and instead was seen as a medium whose intention was merely to mock.
In the 1970’s he traveled to both Southeast Asia and Switzerland to gain an oriental pull of influence for his sculptures. In 1993, he received the Chabot Prize from the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds or Prince Bernhard Culture Fund). In 2003, he also visited Singapore after recovering from a grave illness. It was there where he came across some Chinese flashcards signifying specific characters like Shuangxi or “doube happiness”. This observance directly influenced his style as well and played an important role in his development as an abstract artist.
Olivier Strebelle’s large and monumentally scaled sculptures have been a frequent sight for almost 60 years. His style has evolved from a previous set of organic and abstract forms to a more linear and slender type of modernism that plays with the movement of the eyes as they observe his work. Strebelle’s bronze artworks has made their way into countries like Germany, Israel, Italy, Singapore and America.
Olivier Strebelle in his Sculpture Studio – Photography by Mark Moran
His more recent sculpture “Athletes’ Alley” has been placed on the area where the 2008 Beijing Olympics was held a few years back. This renown sculpture rose up to over sixty feet high and three hundred forty feet across. The artist made use of steel tubing and bended them into a continuous flow of contemporary shapes. From angled views, the shapes come together very nicely in an elegant assembly of sorts, but the real purpose can be seen when the piece is viewed from a specific place. It is then, that the viewer will be able to see five figures carrying the Olympic rings. The sculpture did not make it in time for the Olympic date exactly, but was a good gestural gift from Belgium to the city of Beijing. It cost about 5 million euros to create. To produce such a grand and monumental structure, a cooperative project had to be established between The Image Laboratory of the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium and the Tsinghua University in China. These two universities also had to seek the expertise of C&E Ingénierie; an engineer’s consultancy specializing in metal framework, and Sofistik; a German software company.
Recently there have been a number of Chinese sculptors that have made impact on the global art community. Here, we are going to talk about one of them. His name is Zhan Wang and he is an abstract sculptor who works with the boldness of the media and likes to transform it in ways that no one has ever seen before. Some people say that Zhan takes his inspiration from the many wild experiences he has had over the years. In 2004 for example, Zhan climbed the tallest mountain in the world; Everest, and put one of his sculptures at the very top of the peak.
Sculpture Rock Number 59 by Zhan Wang – Photography by Reguiieee
Zhan’s sculptures were often considered a novelty not because of their form, shape or subject, but because of the new manner that he presented these already-existing objects. He would play with positions, balance, and color to make each piece seem like it has been reinvented for the purpose of a new art experience. He calls his recent style “Floating Stones” and they can be classified as sculptures that are largely textured and rock-like in nature. The difference is, these large masses of nature are coated in chrome metals by Zhan himself. They are also known as scholar’s rocks according to the artist. He also refer to this particular set of works he started in 1995 as Artificial Jiashanshi. The mirror-like feel of his sculptures give surrealists a feel of an indeterminate form and existence. The liquid-like chrome blends with the cascades of light and reflects some of it back at the human eye to showcase the brilliance of Zhan’s master craftsmanship.
Abstract is a word means something that exists only in thought or idea but does not maintain a physical, concrete existence. As a verb, it means to withdraw or take outside of something given.
It’s a common word in art, but whether it be sculpture, painting, mixed media or photography- abstraction is a beauty to the sense. Why? Because we seldom understand it.
The human being yearns to learn and discover new things. It is our unquenchable thirst to know more about the world- so what happens when we present ourselves with something that cannot be governed by fact or formula? We find it absurd! We find it mind-boggling! and after all of that, we seek to understand it beyond anything else!
What caused the human being to create abstract art was indeed an abstract idea in itself. It was the idea that not everything had to be set in stone with regards to the art world. Not every little bit of detail and proportion had to match reality to be perfect. Abstract art is a rebellion of the mind. It was created by a stroke of wonder at what could be beyond human intellect.
Today, abstract artists all over the world converge to marvel at each others works, and more importantly at each other’s stories. We derive our art from our memory and experience, not necessarily from tangible surroundings.