Würzburg Bolton Landing I
This suspended sculpture, the upper part suggesting the shoulders and neck of a human body, was wrought by Rui Chafes from iron mesh, his material of choice and one of his artistic hallmarks.
This mesh, seen here as a kind of body bag, evokes the image of skin as a wrapping that restrains the body, yet with a transparency that allows the light to pass through it. This interpenetration is intensified by a series of dichotomies – heaviness and lightness, high and low, hard and soft, interior and exterior, empty and full – which emphasise the essence of the work: the transformation of a substance as heavy and coarse as iron into something organic and fragile, with a shape that hints at sexuality as something at once liberating yet conditioning. Chafes always paints the iron, obliterating it as a substance. As he explains, «in my work I’m searching for forms that will act like the letters in writing.Iron is always made black or grey so that it becomes unobtrusive.»* Iron, which is worked upon with fire, the same fire which burns, incinerates and conjures up an image where the figures of the alchemist and the blacksmith merge into one, just as this sculpture somehow fuses the gothic with the contemporary.
The aforementioned analogy to writing is all the more important when we learn that the artist is also a writer and translator (principally of Novalis’ Fragments), and has published several books in which German romanticism and the aesthetics of the sublime are claimed as personal ideals.
Indeed, the title of this sculpture, which is also the title of one of his books, an anthology of texts esteemed by the artist, acts as a paradigm for this idea: Wurzburg was the city where Tilman Riemanschneider, a medieval German artist, and Chafes’ favourite, lived and worked, and eventually became burgomaster; Bolton Landing is a huge tract of land in New York where the American sculptor David Smith, an abstract expressionist, built his study.
We are also looking at a kind of personal topography, a title which identifies the artistic geography of Chafes himself, and yet another key to understanding this melancholic sculpture; again in his own words: «I want to create points that are dull, opaque and rough, offering no smoothness or light relief. I want to push away this digital, multi-coloured, transparent, slippery world. That is, I’m trying to establish a strategy of slowness to counteract a strategy of acceleration; a strategy of heaviness to counteract a strategy of lightness.»**
* Cf. interview with Rui Chafes by Doris von Drathen in Rui Chafes: Um Sopro, Porto, Galeria Graça Brandão, 2003.
These cookies are used to enhance your browsing experience, security and our website's performance, allowing you to access the main features of the website. Therefore, they are always enabled. This type of cookies includes cookies that allow you to be remembered as you browse the website during a single session.
These cookies collect information about the use of the website to improve the services provided and to evaluate the performance of the website. Some of these cookies may be used to test pages or the functionality of the website by measuring the reaction of users. These cookies may be our own and / or owned by third parties.
These cookies are third-party cookies that allow to connect to social media and share multimedia content from our website on those networks. Some of these cookies help us to adapt advertising outside of our website to the interests of the users. By disabling these cookies, it will no longer be possible to directly share our content in any social media
For more information about cookies and the processing of your personal data, please see the Privacy and Cookies Policy. You can change your cookie settings at any time through the link at the bottom of the page.