Phase II | Mike Fields Contemporary Sculptures - Mike Fields Contemporary Sculptures
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Phase II | Mike Fields Contemporary Sculptures

Phases of my Art

Phase II

I am currently focusing on creating art that satisfies an underlying aesthetic demand for sensuality, balance, simplicity and beauty, which I call phase II. I intend to have several phases, each focusing on a different primary expression. In a later phase, I will focus on creating art that has a deeper message.

My first phase focused on representational sculpture. I was developing technique and trying to find my way. I faced the challenges that comes with developing technique and skill. There are many things that can be lost in that development, despite what is gained.  This challenge will remain — how can one maintain a fresh creative perception and action? I have always felt I was dominated by the linear, the mechanical and non-creative and I have put a lot of energy and inquiry into trying to break through this. That path as brought me here.

My traditional work was caught up in a significant amount of detail and representation and now I am going in a completely different direction. Below are some sub-themes and inquiries of phase II.

Beauty

What is beauty? Does it have universal qualities or principles? What words come to mind when you think of beauty — elegance, grace, subtlety, mystery, fluidity, sensuality? If something is striking, it has the power to suspend the mind. On the other hand, when the mind is still it has the power to see beauty everywhere. Interestingly, the experience of beauty seems to be accompanied by a sense of significance, simplicity and clarity.

I am currently exploring visually compelling art that invites familiarity and timelessness. “Swan” is one of these explorations, loosely inspired by a swan, with an emphasis on pure design rather than representation. The sweeping sensual and sinuous curves and surfaces of this piece intend to satisfy, while maintaining balance and intrigue from various viewing angles. Swan is an attempt to create a sense and appreciation of beauty in the viewer.

It is interesting that my guide in creating is ‘what looks, or feels right’.  But where does this underlying aesthetic sense come from and is it shared, universal? Is it solely the product of evolution and experience? Or do principles of aesthetics come prior?

Isness

Sometimes the meaning of a thing is the thing itself, or, perhaps more accurately, the relation of the thing to the viewer and their mutual environment. I think this is true of objects and life in general. We are so caught in words that we believe that something must be spoken about something in order for it to gain meaning, but in many cases the contrary is true. Our language is built on the premise that this means that and the whole web of symbolic consciousness is spun on this.  A deeper meaning can emerge through the union of observer and observed in the absence of language. My primary focus in phase II is on this simple and direct significance.

One should be a bit skeptical when there is an inordinate amount of verbiage surrounding the meaning of a work. Often times the meaning is not supported by the work alone.  A piece should speak for itself, directly to the viewer. Even if there is an underlying message to a piece, the piece should still have the power to communicate directly.

It is important for an artist to contemplate, or be sensitive to what they want to convey, but this is vastly different than a third party speaking about the work after it is composed.  Many times, there is even a breakdown in integrity about how the artist speaks about his own work. An artist may have certain intentions, insights, sensibilities that they want to convey in a work, which may operate consciously or even subconsciously. Even with intention, these qualities might not necessarily be communicated through the work to the viewer.  On the other hand, sometimes qualities can come through a work even without conscious intention.

My current work is, for the most part, neither symbolic nor representational. It simply is what it is, not trying to be or mean something else.  A piece’s meaning comes from its form and relationship with the viewer, which is something intimate and personal, not shaped by another’s commentary or preconceived notions of what should be seen or valued.

Simplicity

I think my understanding and personal sensibility aligns strongly with traditional Japanese aesthetics and principles shaped by zen.

Can something be simple, yet compelling?  That is a question and challenge that inspires my current work. “Unity” is one answer to this question. It is a contemporary exploration into the simplicity of pure design.  This piece captures the final dance before unification of entities. The piece’s goal is to remain simple, yet feel engaging, comfortable yet exciting, foreign yet familiar, calm yet dynamic.

Ichi-go Ichi-e is a contemporary sculpture loosely inspired by Japanese calligraphy and the principles behind it,. Ichi-go Ichi-e is often translated as “for this time only,” “never again,” or “one chance in a lifetime.”

Relation

A thing is not only its relation to its environment and viewer, but it is also in relation to itself. The relation of the part to other parts, the part to itself (its own form), the part to its absence, and the part to the whole, defines itself and the whole.  One way in which this expresses itself is through proportion.  The viewer will feel satisfied if everything is in its right place, in comfortable proportion, while maintaining energy and vitality.

Nothing can exist in isolation.  Even if the piece is devoid of representational or symbolic meaning, it is still interrelated and interdependent on its environment and viewer, from which it gains meaning.  In this way the piece participates with the viewer and the viewer participates with the piece.

Dynamism

I am very intrigued by dynamism. I strive to create works that morph and surprises the viewer as it rotates, or as the viewer moves around it. A highly reflective surface reinforces the sense of changefullness, as the piece transforms with its environment, demonstrating that a thing is very much a reflection of its surroundings. In a similar way, people reflect their local community, the larger society, and nature in general. It is also true that society is the reflection and projection of the individual.

Dynamism is important because a viewer desires to be surprised and experience a sense of spontaneity. A piece cannot be too predictable or it loses interest, but if it is too unpredictable it does not please either.

The work that currently makes up phase II is mostly focused on creating the illusion of vitality and energy in a static object.  I would also like to explore kinetic works in which a piece changes in relation to itself, or perhaps even performs a function.

Complementary

I’ve always been captivated by art that exhibits opposing and seemingly contradictory qualities in a balanced and seamless way.  This quality is also what makes people and life in general interesting. Underlying this is the principle, yin-yang

“Yin-Yang describes seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.”

I’m experimenting with keeping the following qualities in balance:

  • Sensuality – Strength
  • Stillness – Movement
  • Simplicity – Complexity
  • Softness – Firmness
  • Balance – Imbalance
  • Subtlety – Boldness
  • Independence – Dependence

One of my favorite examples of the union of movement and stillness is this sculpture of Christ by an unknown Flemish artist.

Unity and Fragmentation

Our world seems dominated by fragmentation, division and conflict, which has persisted for millennium.  This fragmentation has its roots in thought, language and identification.  “Fracture” is a demonstration of this shattering of consciousness.

If one’s mind is ‘still’, this fragmentation dissolves. This is the place where the artist and viewer meet, as well as the viewer with other viewers.  A place of communion.

I am inspired to see and share hidden unity behind apparent division.

Absense

What a thing is not, is as important as what it is. The negative space that intimately envelopes a piece helps describe it.  In the same way that silence gives meaning to sound, stillness and emptiness give meaning to a thing. This applies to people too. Discipline and virtue are as much about what someone is not, as it is about what they are.

There is always a relationship between the thing and its absence. I try to give attention to the negative space created by a form and attempt to make this as compelling as the form itself.

Science

Observational and theoretical sciences act as a strong influence and have inspired representational pieces such as Convergence, Ribbon of Life, Radiolarian, Neuronic and Attraction.

Nature is the ultimate source of creation and observation is the basis for all the arts and sciences.  Recognizing this truth forces a certain humility, as an artist, scientist or human. I am excited to create more works that draw their inspiration from science.

I am inspired to see and share hidden unity behind apparent division

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