Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Dripping Life

Regardt van der Meulen’s mesmerising steel sculptures posit questions about the strength and vulnerability of human life in modern society.

“A drop of water hollows a stone, not by force, but by continuously dripping” stated Ovid, the ancient Roman classical poet and author of “Metamorphoses” (43 BC – 17AD). In fact, this easily applies to life as it slowly flows and withers human life in its course, thus somehow acting like a process of metamorphosis upon human beings.

Regardt van der Meulen, a South African artist currently based in Johannesburg, is particularly concerned about the vulnerability of both one’s physical body and one’s emotional and mental state. His steel sculptures made of figurative structures of fragmented bodies reflect his preoccupation with the contrasting human strength and fragility, and their fears and illusions of safety.

“My work is inspired by time, memory and mortality. I am intrigued by not only the decay of human life but also the erosion of our surroundings. Through all stages of birth, growth, fruition and death the inevitable element of decay and mortality is present. People habitually live with a misled sense of security, the illusion that our environment or civilisation is dependable, trustworthy and static”, he stated.

Quite adequately, his media are steel and concrete, since these materials convey the idea of strength and stability, notions which he questions in his stunning sculptures of decaying, dripping, deconstructed bodies. Seen from a distance, Regardt van der Meulen’s works seem sleek, peaceful representations. Yet, on a closer look, viewers realise they stand before highly disturbing human shapes melting down, falling apart, drifting away into the void.

Van der Meulen’s art works may be said to stand in line with Bruno Catalano's, Manuel Marti Moreno’s or Gil Buvel’s sculptures, already featured here in previous texts, which also echo this same preoccupation with the decay of human life.

Regardt van der Meulen’s mesmerizing yet very dynamic sculptures give viewers the feeling that they are disintegrating as they proceed on their way through life, leaving behind them fragments of their bodies. They seem to have forever been stolen of part of their humanity by the ravages of time. The aesthetic effect of this is a sort of transparency provided by the void sections of the works which deeply contrast with the parts that remain intact.

In fact, van der Meulen’s mind-blowing steel sculptures stand as a metaphor for the contradicting strength and vulnerability of which Humanity itself is made. Life, like water on a stone, can hollow human beings as they walk on their path in this world.

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