CuSn & Fe
04.02.2020 – 05.01.2020
This exhibition highlights time-honored techniques of metalsmithing carried on by contemporary craftsmen and artists Herve Wahlen, Saint Clair Cemin, Veronica Mar, and Pieter Maes. A defining material in the development of human civilizations, metal has been used, cast or hammered since the Bronze Age, whether for utilitarian or artistic purposes. Shaping metal with a hammer (forging) is the archetypical component of smithing. Often the hammering is done while the metal is hot, having been heated in a forge. Smithing can also involve other aspects of metalworking, such as refining metals from their ores — traditionally done by smelting — casting them into shapes (founding), and filing to shape and size. With any of these techniques, heat acts as the primary variable in the sculpting of metals, as heat-induced liquid alloys are shaped by the human hand.
The selected works on view exemplify these different processes with highly textured surfaces embodying the artist’s gesture. While motion is inherent to the forging techniques used by French metalsmith and artist Herve Wahlen to sculpt his pieces, Brazilian artist Saint Clair Cemin or Belgian designer Pieter Maes cast bronze pieces from pre-sculpted forms fixed in a static mold where the molten metal solidifies and materializes into the final work. The monumental nature of the Soul Bench by Spanish designer Veronica Mar is formed through the process of annealing, whereby the application of heat increases the malleability, allowing the artisan to shape the steel into its curved form. All result in matter and forms reliant upon heat as an impetus. Whether cast, sculpted, or hand-hammered the time-honored techniques of metalsmithing highlight the artisans’ dexterity through sculptural, sinuous forms and tactile skins.