I am really interested in the subject matter and the themes addressed in Paolozzi’s collage and print works, particularly as many still factor in our lives today. I found identifying these themes really useful for understanding his three dimensional work.
Putting Paolozzi into the context of Post WW2, with the threat of the Cold War looming helped explain why fear seemed to play a such a huge part in Paolozzi’s work:
” a lifelong exploration into the many ways humans are influenced by external, uncontrollable forces.” ¹
I feel the presence of fear particularly strongly in his three dimensional biometric forms. The 1950’s was an era where people believed machines and technology could take over the world. Cyclops (1957) deals rather sympathetically with the human form, yet encrusts the surface with cogs and bolts.
The surfaces of Paolozzi’s sculptural works, whether 3-D form or relief, are constructed from composite shapes. They are literally littered with mechanical looking parts. There seems to be no logic to the arrangements- no suggestion that the ‘machine’ could ever function. To me this reinforces the theme of fear: there is no reason, just a fractured representation of a frightened mind.
As far as construction goes, Paolozzi welded and bolted components together, then used Lost Wax Casting to recreate the surface. This seems like a necessary step to unify the collection of ‘found items’ into a cohesive structure. I found this interesting because it seems at odds with the way I would have previously considered building a surface. I would normally think about the production of ‘modules’ which I would then connect in some manner (like a Karen Margolis structure).
My realisation that a collection objects could be assembled and cast, led me to design a Paolozzi-style tile. I evaluate this decision here.