This is some artwork that I immediately fell in love with. There’s something interesting going on within it; the artist has managed to embed postural and posing cues to a high degree, which affects this viewer by making me feel that I am looking at emotional displays.
Welcome to the work of Philip Jackson, “The Royal Court” sculptures.
Also, these are bronzes. The mold-maker in me quails at the sight of so much material, so beautifully rendered. The textures are amazing and that’s a hell of a lot of bronze!
Where I think Jackson’s work shines is the poses of the sculptures. They successfully convey some kind of emotion – or, perhaps, they convey that there is some kind of emotion and we fill in the blanks.
The use of different highlights and texture is exquisite. What is going on in the scene above? The figure in the center is being escorted somewhere, obviously. Is the trailing figure exhorting them to be brave because what is about to happen is terrible, or are they singing praises?
The body-language of the gossips above is just wonderful. The details like the hand clutching the bench make the piece effective.
Quoted in BetweenMirrors (where I found these photos) [bm] Jackson says:
“”My sculptures are essentially an impressionistic rendering of the figure. Where you see the figure seemingly grow out of the ground, the texture resembles tree bark, rock, or lava flow,” he’s said of his work. “As the eye moves up the sculpture, the finish becomes gentler and more delicately worked, culminating in the hands and the mask, both of which are precisely observed and modeled.”
I’ve always felt that headgear bears a particular relationship to displays of power. People seem to like big hats (or big hair) to raise their height and size when they are trying to look important. Jackson has a great grasp of posture and costume as means of projecting.
The figures above – you can tell they are serious about something. I assume they are a threat, because their faces are hidden. Tall figures with big hats and only their eyes showing are always menacing to me. These guys look like they are here to enquire seriously about the state of my soul. They won’t get their hands dirty but they have friends with hot tongs standing by to ask questions if I don’t answer promptly.
For me, great art is the stuff you can look at and either it tells you a story, or it makes you tell stories. I realize as I say that there’s an implicit bias in me toward art that is human-centric. Maybe that’s the reason why? I’m not sure. I’ve never found things like Mondrian or Jackson Pollock to be particularly interesting aside from “wow, that’s a bunch of colors”
I know this is silly, but I wish that sculpture gardens included information about the weight of the art-work, and how it’s mounted. Look at the angle on the woman above; she’s got to be mounted on some kind of deeply buried reinforced concrete thing, or she’d fall over. The angle in the piece is critical to its success, too, isn’t it? How much bronze are we looking at, what does that piece weigh, and how does it look so light and mobile anyway?