Over the course of the year, I have interviewed many Blair artists. Amongst them the majority were painters who devoutly depict their ideal of aesthetic art in 2D. However, last week I was able to interview a Blair sculptor, Joebe Mandel ’16, and through the interview I gained a better understanding of not only three dimensional arts but also art as a whole.
It is important to realize that there are various way to portray beauty and each medium has its strength and beauty. However, three dimensional art is indeed a more literal way of interpreting objects. Artists are challenged to not only understand the basic structure of the object but also to grasp the essence of its dimensions. Since we live in a three dimensional world, it is no doubt more comfortable for our senses to comprehend beauty in sculpture. However, does this mean three dimensional art is a quicker and better approach to link art with reality? How is it different to present the purpose of art itself through two dimensional and three dimensional art? I guess that is something we need to find out from Joebe:
Chris Liu: How did you first become interested in art?
Joebe Mandel: When I was a little kid, I noticed my father’s sculptures around the house. I was really curious so I asked him about them. As it turned out, he has a major in art and he made many sculptures. So I think I was first inspired by him and his works to be a sculptor.
C: Is sculpting the only form of art that you practice?
J: I also draw, though I’m not really good at it. I can paint and I’m a portrait artist, which is why I normally paint people’s faces and preferably I make sculptures of faces. I think there are differences between drawing and making sculptures of faces.
C: In your opinion, what is the biggest difference between drawing and sculpting?
J: For drawing, once you had the idea or the image in your head you can just draw it. However, for sculptors, it is hard to transform a 3D image onto a 2D plane. So when I make sculptures, I sometimes start with only a vague idea and then work my way of approaching my ideas while actually carving and sculpting. So it is difficult to have to figure out the dimensions and the details of the object in your head before sculpting it. As for 2D drawing, you could only draw the side of an object which you see, while you can’t represent all the surfaces that you are seeing. Of course Braque and Picasso attempted to achieve such perspective through the cubism movement, but there’s no literal way of doing it without making a 3D representation of the object. Whether the art is portrayed on canvas or in sculpture, a 3D image must be formed in order to achieve of effect of depicting the full surfaces of the object.
C: So would you say that 3D arts (sculpting) is a closer approach to reality and beauty?
J: This has been a controversial topic amongst the art world. Personally I agree with Michelangelo’s stand on this matter. He was famous for making sculptures like “David” and the Sistine Chapel ceiling fresco. He was a really classic sculptor with a graceful greek style that emphasised on proportion and masculinity. While his paintings showed a late renaissance, early baroque depiction of chaos, humanity and beauty. As a noble artist, he said that the only real type of art is sculpting (I’m obviously paraphrasing, but the quote was along the same line). And I respect his opinion.
C: It seems like you know a lot about art history, so who is your favorite artist?
J: Can I say two? [Laughes] In the more contemporary sense, I would say Auguste Rodin, who is a famous modern sculptor. He is famous for sculpting “The Thinker” and “The Gates of Hell.” His works are really inspiring because he was considered as a impressionist sculptor, because his works are not so smooth but kind of bumpy. So it shows more motion in the actual act of sculpting and the subject’s movement when it was being sculptured. And I also really like [Gian Lorenzo] Bernini, who is a baroque genius. His own depiction of “David” is my personal favorite amongst many other “Davids.” It demonstrated focus and it was really well polished. So I definitely call inspiration from Rodin and Bernini, and try to incorporate both the classic and the impressionist approach to sculpturing.
C: What is the most frustrating thing in making a sculpture?
J: I think the most frustrating thing is to know where you want to start. I have sculpted a lot of heads by this point, probably over 25 in the last year, and I think over 70 % of them I started differently each time. I find it really frustrating to start and then after a while, to refine where I had left, and then adding to what I have starting and eventually compiling them up to the stage where I can get a rough form of the image. It is always hard to start with just a pile of clay and then make it into a certain form, but once there is a form, it is much more easier to go on.
(Copyright 2016 Chriss Liu)