L O U I S S C L A F A N I portraits
L o r e d a n o
Sculpted from a mass of glass and textured with layers of copper skin which float over glass panes, these pieces in this new series contain many profiles within a single portrait.
Sclafani’s series of Portraits incorporate layers of glass and metal to re-create the time-honored form of the sculptural bust. Yet, far from the staid bronze busts of political figures and cultural icons that have traditionally embellished government buildings and museums, Sclafani’s busts fragment under the viewer’s eye. Often, when you see these works frontally, there is a stability, a coherence about them. They seem straightforward and whole. When you move around them, however, they turn transparent, abstract, their glass interiors suspended like small seas.
There is a clear contrast between interior and exterior, but also a harmony of surface and interior matter. With their imperative that the viewer constantly move around them, Sclafani’s works cause us to exchange the concept of looking at artworks for the complexity of seeing through, past, and around works. They use the physicality of sculpture to make our complex perception of artworks—a perception contingent on time and space—visible to us.
With their physical layers and shifting forms, these works exchange the hollow bronze portraits of the past for complex and fluid presences activated by the viewer’s time and attention. As we see them, we might experience the exhilarating contingency of seeing itself, and the fugitive intensity of the present moment.
Seen from another angle, the same head seems almost multiple, individuals standing close in a crowd. The viewer’s attention and the motion of her body continually shift the physicality of the portrait. Seen from the front, the head reveals itself as two halves—a divided self from any angle. In this process of viewing, the physical layers of glass transform into the conceptual layers of an individual’s psyche. Sclafani’s Portraits unfold in time. Their temporality is linked with the viewer’s movement.