My work explores the concept of structure through physical abstractions of solidity, weight, stability, permanence, transition, within the organic and the geometric. I create naturally inspired forms that are antithetical to the concept of solidity, subverting the concept of stability and heft through a process of imparting and embracing negative space, allowing the viewer to project into them.
My shapes are typically deconstructions of natural forms and processes. The gaps, cracks and holes created by natural and biological events over time appear in more refined ways within those shapes. The divots and cracks of weathered, eroded rocks, and the light and shadows within them inspired the very first hole-filled work of art I created. Bubbles within churning waves, shadows within and between trees on a wooded hillside, holes tunneled in a fallen log.… There are countless paradoxical examples of voids filling natural forms that inspire my sculptures. What unites these fascinations for me are the holes and gaps in a structure, or structural system, and the changes of light and shadow within, through and upon it with the passage of time, as well as an infusion of lightness or airiness.
My use of negative space has taken different forms and been created different ways over the years, but has evolved to be imparted primarily through round, typically drilled, holes. The aesthetics of the circle, and the round hole, have deep, primitive, scientific, and metaphysical connotations in all cultures, and this is largely why I have settled upon that shape and form; however, those shapes and the processes of creating them have even deeper, personal meaning for me. As a young child it took the form of a preoccupation, or dare I say an obsession, with drilling holes of various sizes over and over in blocks of wood with my grandfather’s (who was a carpenter) 1940s Millers Fall eggbeater-style hand drill; a drill I still have. The act of opening up a solid block of wood with a spinning drill bit, of seeing a solid spill apart into curled shavings and dust to reveal the shadowy secrets within was fascinating to me, and apparently still is.
To that effect, decades later, my sculptures themselves are paradoxical regarding the concept of solidity and sturdiness. I deconstruct, and in many ways destroy forms to open them up, lighten, and enlighten them. The solid forms I create are my canvases, and the holes and gaps I place are my brush strokes within those rigid canvases, as well as the light projected through, and the shadows created by them.
The concept of a stable solid, or structure, has always fascinated me, enough to propel me to earn a degree, and then to work as a structural engineer for over a decade. Ultimately, I left the profession so I could devote my life not to the engineered creation of utilitarian structures, but to the creation of purely aesthetic structures - structures for which the paradigm “form follows function”, is inverted to become ‘function follows form’. My sculptures are form-driven structures that embrace the destruction of solidity and therefore of function.
I am a shape maker who works with a desire to create static forms that vibrate and float with the quiet tension of juxtaposed negative and positive space, of tenuous solidity, static motion, and arrested decay. My artworks are defined as much by what the viewer sees as by what they see within, and through them; they are visually transformed by their surrounding environs and by the changes in those environs. The interplay of my sculptures with their surroundings offers different views on spaces, and the changing conditions of light will manifest in intricate shadows, thus creating an ever-changing dance between the present, the missing, their surroundings, and you.
Michael Enn Sirvet