Throughout the twentieth century the modernist project in the visual arts has been an attempt to clarify how we might locate in non-narrative, non-illustrative forms an art released from the ties of the given visible world. It has been a project as much as a practice. This modernist tradition has been the foundation stone of all that I have made as a carver, and my work speaks of my ongoing deliberations on the possibilities of twentieth century visual form using traditional media.
In the past my inclinations have been towards a kind of cool abstraction that avoids the distractions of representational objects. My artistic sources are in Constructivism, the linearities of early 20th century geometrical abstraction as it developed up to and including Minimalism, and in the focus on material and form in Brutalist architecture. I am, however, also working on various figurative pieces at present, and on cubist inspired marble musical instruments.
I see art as a means to selfhood, to a better perception of all that resides on the edge of the sayable and beyond categorisation. Hence I am also interested in the psychopathology of art and the means by which art evades the codifications of more scholarly forms of understanding.
The Italian experience
Working in Italy continues to inspire me as a sculptor, in particular because of the freedom to experiment offered by studios there. When I’m in Carrara I’m surrounded by artists with astonishing technical skills and lives dedicated to stone. Their freedom from what I would call the ‘Western Tradition’ is utterly frightening and an inspiration.
A Late Summer Visit to Carrara by Sam Bell