Strange Heads by Elisa Siegel

Surreal heads.
Surreal heads.

Elisa Sigel makes sculptures of world famous actors. It would seem, well, what is so unusual and remarkable here? The trend is popular, because many people are engaged in modeling, and besides, the topic of celebrities is inexhaustible and fertile. But from a large group of sculptors who have chosen the creation of ceramic busts as their main craft, Eliza stands out with her vivid imagination and special technique of execution.

Eliza's exhibition.
Eliza’s exhibition.

At the first glance at any creation by Elisa Siegel, the thought comes to mind that an outsider worked on the sculpture; it is too original. Blurred facial contours, uneven edges, rough sculpting and lack of clear lines, empty eye sockets and protruding lips. It seems that the external similarity of the sculpture to the original is not of particular importance to the master. As some critics and art historians note, during her work Eliza turns not to the human body, but to his mind. And, apparently, this is how she sees the inner world of her sitters.

Blue and pink busts.
Blue and pink busts.

Eliza Siegel presented her first sculptures to the general public in the mid-1980s. A lover of experimentation, the craftswoman gradually switched from traditional clay to working with wire mesh and modeling paste. The surfaces of the busts appeared to be cracked, rough, and absolutely did not coincide with society’s demands for beauty and classicism.

In 1999, Eliza returned to clay and surprised with an original installation: the sculptor made 30 heads, which she placed on the floor. Outwardly, they resembled creatures emerging from the depths. And clay arms and legs hung from the walls. Since then, dismembered bodies have become Eliza’s favorite topic. For example, in 2004, the artist presented a new project called “21 bodies, 24 legs”: the composition consisted of children’s bodies, divided into upper and lower halves. The two rows of chairs sat with the lower sections facing each other. Children’s legs in stockings touched those next to them. And the upper part of the body, mounted on a special stand, was on top. A powerful manifestation of innocence and defenselessness and brutal aggression.

Elisa Siegel 21 body, 24 legs.
21 body, 24 legs.

And then Eliza returned to the portrait bust. The artist works in a mixed style – in her works one can find characteristic features of the Japanese Haniwa movement (ceramic sculptures of the 4th-8th centuries), the Renaissance and African ritual masks. In the works presented in the exhibition “Ragged Edges”, it is impossible to detect exact similarities with the great artists. The viewer can guess from individual lines, hints and halftones.

Elisa Siegel Strange heads.
Strange heads by Elisa Siegel.
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