“Machine Man” will be a part of a special exhibit at the Oceanside Museum of Art entitled Contemporary Interpretations, in June 2023.
With my design process taking much thought and planning, I begin my pieces with an abstract composition, which at times is driven by the materials. However, with this work of art it called for reverse engineering. As I analyzed Gellert’s “Worker and Machine”, the composition directed my response from the start.
I can only imagine how you are feeling about this piece, because I am just overwhelmed with your creative vision, your courage to see that vision through, and your ability to so gracefully combine wood with materials. I am familiar with much of your art, and I feel that this is a breakthrough piece for you. Very excited to see where this will take you. I also love your trompe l’oeil and how you treated the whittled wood piece and wrench to look like metal. And how you opted to pull his hand down past the edge, also nestling that wrench in between the black disc and pulley to create a more dynamic effect. So beautifully arranged and balanced. -by Trinh Mai, Curator
The array of materials used–wood, metal, and various found objects–were informed by the colors of the WPA painting. As I ventured into an in-depth analysis of the original artists’ work, I was drawn into the mind of the artist, allowing me to experience a kinship with the artist of another era. For “Machine Man”, I carved the hand while observing how Gellert had chosen to depict the hand gripping onto the wrench. In this response piece, his hand extends below the edge to create a more dynamic motion.
In today’s world of highly sophisticated manufactured materials and objects, some created through artificial intelligence, we recognize hand crafting as an invaluable skill. Gellert’s “Worker and the Machine” addresses these values. The strong back of the worker is pronounced by the deep wood grain, and harkens back to a different time in our nation’s history. And yet, here we are today, still facing the crumbling of our infrastructure.
With “Machine Man”, carving the hand of the man caused me to look how the artist had chose the unique position of the hand in correlation to the pipe wrench he was holding. I elected to carve the wrench for structural reasons. The hand is also extended below a line that follows the bottom of the figure.
By taking the actual design of a symbolic piece has opened up a vista of new design to me. I look forward to using some of the new processes I have learned by doing this project. It is nothing new, I seem to continue to learn new creative processes in each new piece I create.
“Worker and Machine” 1928
Oil on Panel – 30 x 31
From the collection of Sandra & Bram Dijkstra
Painted by Hugo Gellert 1892-1985