THE FRUSTRATED SCULPTOR
For the last 20 years I have attempted to make a living out of figurative sculpture. This has proved to be a considerable challenge, achieving sustainable wins along the way along with suitable kicks and abrasions. A number of years ago I stumble on a problem of not being able to finish things. I would start a job happy enough but as I proceeded the pace would slowly decline, eventually stopping with a lurch and in a jam. I had alway hoped a creative project would end in a flash of glory, like Tchaikovsky penning in the end statements of his 5th symphony. But alas I ended in a dull slump of uncertainty.
This problem of completion sent me on a journey of discovery. What I was looking for was a "finished" product, a creative work with elements brought together in a broad symphonic crescendo, with pounding timpanis and trumpets . Looking around- especially in my niche area of figurative bronze sculpture, I couldn't find any answers. Travelling overseas I thought would bare fruit but wherever I went I was faced with the same issue: everyone had a lot of something rather than a bit of everything.
Eventually I began to realise that while I had no definitive answer, what I did have was a pretty good question: should an artwork end with certainty or uncertainty, as an answer or a question? Framed as such a question my enquiry began to gather motion. For what I found was a much bigger discussion regarding convergent v divergent thinking, a discussion connected to education, religion and culture.
Postmodernism, with it's deconstructivist approach certainly backed the question option. In fact the main sway of opinion suggested that creative projects such as sculpture ought to end with an open end of uncertainty rather than a rigid conclusion. This made good sense, especially if you were trying to create something transcendent of preconceived ideas.
However, figurative sculpture, it seemed to me, was a genre that needed conclusions. You couldn't get more conclusive than setting something on a stone plinth, cast in bronze. But more than conclusions, striving for answers provided values; bronze figurative sculpture was the heavy horse of the artistic cavalry, it was heavily dependent on values. With no inherent values it had no language, no gravitas and as a civic expression of shared values, no purpose
DRAWING, THE BONES OF THE VISUAL PROCESS
This quandary led me back to drawing and ultimately to set up this school. Drawing is the bones of the visual process (as it applies to sculpture, painting, architecture, photography...etc), where creative problems are bubbled down to their basic values and relationships. What I discovered to be at the very core of this process was the juxtaposition of answers and question, essentially what you put into a work and how you brought it together, also commonly known as the elements and principles of design.
What I then began to explore was the possibility of questions and answers paddling against each other to propel ideas forward- a see-sawing approach of power and resistance, in a tango embrace. As strange as it sounded it actually worked. Creativity was no longer a matter of deciding on a question or answer for completion, but rather linking a question to an answer to form an interaction. Completion was still possible but now could be made on a series of levels, like an ongoing dialogue or verses of a song. Suddenly a process was set in motion. Things began to move. Creativity was no longer an end product, isolated to a particular time and place but a connection of one idea to another. A series of events connected to a bigger story began to emerge, an ancient story that would continue long after our time. There was nothing new about this idea, it was as old as the hills, it was just a resetting of questions against answers. What it provided, however, was a tension that set things in motion- that would strike up the band...and where it ended was the unexpected flash of something new.
For more information about my work as a sculptor visit my website www.danieldominguez.com.au