left corner left corner
China Daily Website

A globetrotting sculptor's works find a home

Updated: 2012-09-11 15:00
By Dorothy Spears ( The New York Times)
A globetrotting sculptor's works find a home

The Brazilian-born artist Saint Clair Cemin has returned to New York, where his works are being exhibited in two shows. The sculptor in his Brooklyn studio. Brian Harkin for The New York Times

As a child the sculptor Saint Clair Cemin lived for two years on his mother's 2,025-hectare property in rural Brazil, where his father, an engineer, tried and failed to grow wheat. This was in the late 1950s, when the area surrounding the small city of Cruz Alta was, he said, "still known as gaucho land, as primitive as the American West in the 19th century." There was no running water or electricity.

"It was a beautiful time of my life," Mr. Cemin, 60, said. "And I think all of my work has been inspired by it."

Seven of his sculptures, displayed in New York's parks and pedestrian malls along Broadway between 57th and 157th Streets, reveal the extent to which this is true. Presented by the Broadway Mall Association in collaboration with the Paul Kasmin Gallery in the Chelsea neighborhood - which is mounting a concurrent show of Mr. Cemin's work - "Saint Clair Cemin on Broadway" includes "In the Center" (2002), a two-meter-tall semi-abstract figure sporting a gaucho hat and holding a divining rod, believed to help locate water. Mr. Cemin recently explained how the sculpture's title is related to his mother's property, where the family survived on well water. "Art is perception," he said, "and in the center of perception is this strange faceless giant that looks for things - looks for water - and finds it."

His work is arguably more focused on the juxtapositions of different worlds than on any single one. An itinerant artist who speaks five languages, including Russian, he employs a dazzling variety of materials, subjects and sculpture traditions from around the world, often combining them to surprising and sometimes humorous effect.

Another work in the Broadway exhibit, a hammered copper sculpture called "Aphrodite" (2006), refers to the Greek goddess of love and also calls to mind Zulu wood carvings. In the show at Paul Kasmin a new bronze piece, "And Then (I Close My Eyes)," features what may be "a distracted meditating person" from our own culture, Mr. Cemin said, or "an imperfect Buddha." (The works on Broadway are on view through November and the Kasmin show, "Saint Clair Cemin: Six," runs through October 13.)

"Saint Clair's work relates to the theories of the French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss," said the painter Peter Halley. "Around the world he finds hints of language that people from other cultures can relate to."

Previous Page 1 2 Next Page

Hot Topics
Photos that capture the beauty of China.