Sunday, 27 March 2022

The Devourer And Child

Even though I have lots of projects that I should probably be getting on with, I currently feel the need to start something new - something a bit more experimental. My sculptures are usually planned out well in advance and are quite laborious to construct but I've recently been thinking about making a series of small, speedily executed pieces. The idea behind these maquettes being that they act more as rough 3 dimensional sketches (where I can play with forms and see what, if anything, usefully emerges), than as finished works in their own right. 

'The Devourer & Child', 2022, wood and metal sculpture, artist, Wayne Chisnall

I love the primitive clunkiness of Eduardo Paolozzi's 1950s sculptures (before he moved into his less detailed, and more industrial-looking sculptural period), and the way that they are only barely figurative. And it's with thoughts like this in mind (especially the vestige of figuration) that I started doing a few thumbnail drawings and making notes in my sketchbook - trying the get into the right headspace before I physically stared work.

sketchbook pages, 2022, artist, Wayne Chisnall

This piece, 'The Devourer & Child', started out as an armature (where I quickly screwed together roughly-cut pieces of wood and metal) for the first of these small sculptures; the intention being that I would then coat it in other materials and carve into them to create the eventual sculpture. However, after seeing the sculptural shorthand of a figure that emerged in the armature, I decided to leave it as it is. Sometimes it's hard to know when to stop working on a piece and just step away from it; so many artworks can be ruined by over working them.

'The Devourer And Child', 2022, wood & metal sculpture, artist, Wayne Chisnall

Before I started working on this one I had an inspirational image in my head of a very famous painting. At first I thought it was one of William Blake's. After furious searching for the image I suddenly remembered that it wasn't by Blake at all; it was by Goya. It was Goya's 'Saturn Devouring His Son', from his black paintings series. I think that what had temporarily thrown me was that I'd somehow formed a visual connection between Goya's piece and Blake's 'The Ghost of A Flea'.

'Saturn Devouring His Son', Francisco Goya . 'Cyclops', Eduardo Paolozzi . 'Ghost of a Flea', William Blake

Although the piece is generally known as 'Saturn Devouring His Son' (from the Roman myth of Saturn, which was derived from the earlier Greek myth of the titan Cronus/Kronos, who, through fear of being deposed by his children, ate them at birth), this is a title that has been attributed to the work after the artist's death. The painting is from what has become known as the Black Painting series. Goya painted 14 haunting paintings directly onto the walls of his house in Manzanares, near Madrid, between 1819 and 1823. As they were not intended for public display (they were later removed from the walls and transferred to canvas) Goya never named the paintings or explained their meaning.

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