The Sculptures of Patricia Zenklusen: A Dance through Life.

For the artist Patricia Zenklusen, the process of sculpting brings forth new meaning to a material that previously lived another life. Figures displaying various forms of gesture are fleshed out of cedar wood using only a chainsaw as her tool of choice. They are at once delicate as they are august. These slender figures usually stand on narrow platforms all the while performing a sort of dance or ritual of some sort, teetering carefully and rather gracefully over the limited stage they are given to perform. Along with the tenderness of their gestures are their shapes that are seemingly imposing in manner. Tall and monolithic, they point upwards appearing almost like a pillar or may also perhaps resemble a tall tree that once stood in a forest. These two sets of qualities of flow and stability find their harmony in the artist’s oeuvre. It is such a daunting feat to pull off considering the chainsaw’s nature as a tool which is quite rough to manage and industrial in terms of its capability. But nonetheless it is precisely this challenge that Patricia is very interested in working with when it comes to making her artworks.

The characters that come out of her process are borne out of intuition. The artist doesn’t necessarily have a picture in mind when starting to make a piece, they simply arrive as the works progress. At first, there is this solid and rather mute block of wood that is gradually being chipped off piece after piece. Slowly the varying shapes and the gaps in between take form. What are revealed after are dancers, acrobats, lovers and nobles doing all sorts of fantastic and playful activities. This intuitive process is somehow akin to the automatism that is very prevalent in artworks that are Surrealist in vein; wherein the narratives of the images is fleshed out without really having to expect a perceived outcome beforehand. The works are borne out of pure imagination.

Moreover, the way that Patricia works using a chainsaw is very contrasting as to how a lumberjack would work on a log. Usually, their movements are rigid and heavy. Hers are more akin to an Abstract Expressionist creating gestures with some paint and a brush. Seeing her work her way through the material is like seeing somebody dance happily. There is a lot of swaying and flowing back and forth, steady in the tune of the buzzing of a heavy machinery.

There is a thoughtful honesty very much involved with the artist’s style. The limitations of the tool and the roughness of texture are left in the final works since she leaves them untouched by a wood file or sandpaper. They also manifest a joyful mood as they are accented by bright solid blocks of colors. What seems to emanate from Patricia Zenklusen’s sculptures is an expression of joy. They are an ode to life and creative expression. Indeed, life can be at times rough and we find ourselves balancing on top of a precarious position or role. Nevertheless, the journey is still beautiful. It all depends on how we see it. Or rather, we have to learn on how we can dance along with it in order to find happiness and contentment.

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