September 5, 2010

Artist of [Undetermined Time Frame] #10: Super-realistic sculptor Marc Sijan

Hey Blog, there just so happens to be a truly remarkable artist based right here in Milwaukee. Davie and I discovered this on our recent visit to the Waukesha County Museum, where we were privilege to see a temporary exhibition called "Being Alive," which showcased the works of super-realistic sculptor Marc Sijan.

Marc is a fellow alumnus of the University of Wisconsin, and he developed his speciality with inspiration from Michelangelo's David. He was fascinated by the precise accuracy and attention to detail achieved by that sublime work. So he set out to perfect the art of capturing the human face and figure, not only in shape but also texture and color.

Marc (that's one of his self-portraits to the left) uses live models, producing from them a negative plaster mold. He then takes this mold and sculpts it to perfect the details, even to the point of using a magnifying glass. When every tiny detail is perfect, he creates a polyester resin figure from the mold.

Marc then sets to coloring the work, using twenty-five coats of paint to achieve the depth of color shades found in human flesh. After applying a varnish coat, he uses oil paint to finalize the details. Artificial eyes, hair and sometimes teeth are included, and appropriate clothing, jewelry and props.

The completed work is designed to capture a single moment of life, giving a sense that an instant ago this figure was moving, and in the next instant will move again. The poses of Marc's statues therefore add to the feeling that they are real.

If this seems like just an elaborate version wax museum statues, it's not, Blog. That was the interesting part of the experience of viewing Marc's works. Sure, a person does spend some time simply saying, "Wow, they look so real!" But the fact is, they look so real that you can't help but feel you are in the unique position of looking, at extremely close range, at actual human beings frozen in time. It's hard to describe that, and that's why looking at my photos here or on Marc's website does not compare to seeing them in person.

Davie and I reacted differently to the experience, and that was very cool in and of itself. I thought to myself, "I'm never going to get a chance to look at people this closely." I got right up in the art's grill, and stared at nose pores, wrinkles, the sheen of fingernails, the millions of shades of color on a bare back.  (And note in the work to the left:  she's wet.)

I compared the folds in my hands to the folds in another female's hands. I looked at the eyeballs, which were so well crafted they had veins in the whites. I scrutinized all the different kinds of skin. The whole time, I felt privileged. The human body is an incredible thing, and we never get to explore any body but our own--not even our spouses', really--on this level.

Meanwhile, Davie had a different experience. He just couldn't get past his brain screaming to him not to invade the sculptures' personal space. Lest you think that amusing, Blog, I had the same reaction in my own way. I too heard the alarm bells going off in my head that naturally occur when you are within a few feet of another human. It seemed impossible not to feel that way, and that was the ultimate test of the success of these amazing works. Davie could only get so close to them without feeling he was doing something wrong. This experience in and of itself demonstrates in an amazing way how we feel about physical intimacy with other human beings, even though it is not something we are consciously taught.

Kudos to Marc Sijan for his unique, moving contribution to the world of art. And I urge you, if you ever get the opportunity, to see his work. [Milwaukee readers, Marc is the artist who created the security guard located in the lobby of the Frontier Airlines (formerly Midwest Express) Center.] You won't ever think of the human body quite the same way again...and you may come away realizing that your own body is a work of art.

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