I have always been fascinated by the perspective - of being able to accelerate or slow down a movement by modeling a shape larger or smaller in relation to the other parts of sculpture - it is a small pocket of time in itself. The perspective is also fascinating in relation to the role it plays in human history, and we can read our perception of the world by looking at how the perspective has been applied.
From the bodily lines of the cave paintings to the ideals of the Greeks, and perfect proportions to the lack of perspective in the Romanesque age. At the end of the Renaissance, the Mannerists began to exaggerate the perspective and pull out the shape to reinforce the movement. The cubists completely abolished the three-dimensional space by describing objects from multiple sides at once, contradicting perspective theory. Mondrian began to use squares, stripes, and surfaces to describe his landscape, and one day the visual language stood alone, with no recognizable forms in an abstract space. With Einstein's theory of relativity, our perception of space changed yet again, and spacetime expanded the perspective to the extreme.
- The perspective inevitably comes along as a shadow, long or short.
In the perspective of the big picture, one can also follow what significance the sculpture has had for us. The need to describe ourselves, we have always had - we use man as form and narrative, to express who we are.
The very first artists were animists. In deep caves they drew on the walls large, important animals and themselves as hunters, the same kind of animals in all four corners of the world. It was then that man experienced that everything in nature had soul and spirit - both dead and living things. With agriculture, we slowly became more civilized and at the same time developed a moral doctrine, and with it a power structure began to take shape. The teachings of the priests were enforced in many ways, but one of the most important was the sculptures, which were magical objects that reinforced faith - the sculpture was God.
It was this power that the physical sculpture possessed, from the Sumerians to the Egyptians, from the Greeks to the Romans, but which was eliminated at the beginning of Christianity. The iconoclasts found it necessary to destroy all the gods to overcome idolatry. There should now be only the one true God, the one who died on the cross for our sake, and all images of former gods should be destroyed. This is why there is a gap in our cultural history for hundreds of years, after the fall of the Roman Empire in the third century and into the early Middle Ages.
Christian iconoclasts succeeded in starting a new imagery with the rigid Jesus figure in long robe and royal crown. In time, the crown became a crown of thorns and the robe crept over the knees, and in the Renaissance man assumed the role of God in art. This development has only been further enhanced and within the last 50-60 years the sculpture has lost much of its symbolic as well as its artistic significance in the Western world. But for the Hindus in India and several other places, the sculpture has retained its powerful role and they are unchanged as gods. Also within Islam, the sculpture has the same status and is therefore still banned.
The sculpture has difficulty finding space in our digital world, where physical objects are becoming increasingly redundant. Like everything else, art is also digitized and no longer expressed by the ability of the analogue hand, and the language used by analog art so far has difficulty finding a foothold and new expression in contemporary times. We no longer have to express the temperaments of gods; landscapes and portraits are sharpened with the lenses of the phones, even in laymen's untrained hands. If we want to describe our contemporary, it will be in the form of fragments from a lost time, pieced together into a new splintered reality. We use irony and provocation to make room in the zapped world where nothing lasts longer than the next click.
It is a new virtual world that has opened its landscape to us with endless possibilities, but we are in the early beginnings and still walking. We must learn to master the new tools before we can again retell the story of who we are as humans in this new constellation. Until that happens, we make use of ready mades and casts put together in new "poetic constellations", which for me to see, intellectual exercises are told 1 to 1 with the instruction manual attached to the work, and it is my impression that much contemporary art with benefit could be better told in words, whereas analog art just makes words superfluous.
The analog work of art speaks directly to us, we can feel it physically - and it has the ability to speak to us through all times. As humans, we are inevitably analogous. Certain links in our system make us react the same way we always have, and when a work of art resonates within us, we are redeemed - without words.
Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to find new analog expressions for contemporary art that can keep the language alive during this transitional phase. We must do our best to develop the language of sculpture and not be paralyzed by the progress of digital art, which is a language that we have difficulty understanding and where quality often diminishes in the number of artists when everyone can join without real prerequisites, without many years of practice and skill in a craft.
But it is not only for the sake of sculpture that the craft should survive, it is far sadder if the joy of creating is lost. Through the combination of hand and mind we develop ourselves on a personal level, as well as on the general human, and if we do not keep this ability alive, we will forget a great deal of ourselves.
Therefore, I still make sculptures, to keep this ability and joy of the craft alive. It is still very satisfying to be skilled, to have your hands buried in clay, to work with wax or to cut in stone. It is redeeming in itself when in the work process one succeeds in taking the quantum leap and being present the step further ahead than where one actually is when the words land right in a sentence, or the expression in the clay arises - as by itself.
Eli Benveniste, Pietrasanta October 2018