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.
Singapore’s recent fame with the art world isn’t just because of its status as a prestigious place to attend art auctions. The country’s own sculptors have a big impact on the global community as well. Now, let’s delve into the artistic life of Singapore’s Han Sai Por.
Han Sai Por is one of Singapore’ treasured artists. She studied at several notable art schools such as the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, East Ham College of Art, the Wolverhampton College of Art and the Lincoln University in New Zealand. Her sculptures reflect upon the eyes as very organic and natural in shape. She plays with the theme of life and the role that natural design plays in our world. Han’s very first exhibition; Four Dimensions was held at the National Museum Gallery in the early 1990’s.
Sculpture by Han Sai Por – Photography by Stefano Sartor
Han founded the Sculpture Society of Singapore at the turn of the millennium, and was the very first resident sculptor of the organization’s sculpture Pavillion at Fort Canning Park. It was there that she leaned on her taste for organic sculpture even more and created masterpieces from the trunks of Tembusu trees. Despite this, she is known much more for the stone sculptures that she creates to portray natural wonders like the birth of seeds and the spirit of nature. Han is a sculptor who has achieved more in her lifetime than most artists could ever dream of. She was awarded the Cultural Medallion for Art in 1995 among several other recognitions that were given to her during the course of her career.
Wercollier was an artist who was famous for defying the Nazi Occupation. He was born sometime in the early 1900’s at Luxembourg. As an artist, he worked mostly with bronze and marble, but also explored the sculptural properties of wood, alabaster and onyx. Today, many of his art pieces can be found internationally.
When Luxembourg was occupied by the Germans in World War II, Wercollier had a choice to make. There was an organization called the Reichskulturkammer that had been tasked to ensure that all artworks made by anyone had to be at an agreement with the “Aryan” spirit. Wercollier decided not to follow this organization and instead participated in strikes during the 1940’s. He was eventually arrested and imprisoned at the Neumünster Abbey in Luxembourg. Wercollier’s history at the abbey has not been forgotten to this very day. The location now houses many of his sculptures in a permanent collection.
Sculpture by Lucien Wercollier – Photography by Claude Meisch
Later on, Wercollier was transferred to the Hinzert concentration camp in Germany. Wercollier sympathized with the victims of the Nazi oppression that were sent there and this experience led him to create many of his future works. After being rellocated to Lublin for a while, he was later freed at the turn of the war. As a free man, Wercollier was able to pursue his artistic career yet again with more vigilance and passion. He founded the Iconomaques, along with some friends. It was a group of Luxembourg artists who had been spreading the movement of abstract art all across the nation.
Today, Wercollier’s works can be read about in the history of the city and in many international news articles as well. The government of Luxembourg gave one of his sculptors to the Kennedy Center in Washington to honor John F. Kennedy. Another of his sculptures was also sent to the Olympic Sculpture Garden in Lausanne Switzerland. Wercollier’s history as a sculptor was defined by his story and because of his unique experiences, his art was able to move thousands all across the globe. It only shows that art can be a force for change an a pioneer for good in our modern world.
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 Sculpture is a sensual expression of the mind to the heart. It does not promote a full accuracy of the real world, but does so intentionally so that its elements can penetrate the cognitive thinking of an audience. There are two types of abstract sculpture, just like there are in painting. These are Representational Abstract and Non-Representational Abstract. The first pertains to a sculpture that was partially or completely derived from a source in reality, such as the subject of a human body. The latter pertains to a sculpture that is purely imagined out of reality (like a Jackson Pollock in painting).
Sculptors in the modern sense, create works that range from simple pinwheel sized moving sculptures, to large monument-scaled shapes contoured to the environment. Despite the common measuring element of size, sculptures can gain deviance and popularity manipulating other elements as well. Texture, weight, balance and color can all play a distinct role in transforming a novelty idea into a concrete work of art.
There will be many more articles and stories to come that will intrigue and poke at your definition of what abstract sculpture really is, but for now let us just leave it at this:
Abstract sculpture is made by people who do not think or walk like we do. It is an art that was born out of human error, and yet judged by human creativity. It chooses imagination over knowledge (following Eintein’s famous quote) and speaks a meaning that can be heard differently depending on the ear that hears it. We may simply see the beauty in its sublime randomness and modern existence, but to truly understand its power, we must first shrink ourselves to be more humble than intellectuals, but far greater than logic.