Carl Hammer Gallery welcomes back from a self-imposed hiatus far too long in time the wizardry and multiple talents of sculptor/animation genius Joseph Seigenthaler. We are all familiar with the past mechanisms this artist has employed to make us identify with characters both twisted and often macabre. Seigenthaler’s work has endlessly struck a chord of appeal to our fascination with his employment of devices of grotesqueness in his production of human creatures. Sparking an atmosphere of curious voyeurism, the artist was successful in creating a kind of “There but for the grace of God . . .” flicker of self-recognition by the public.
In this newest installment of work, Seigenthaler has made a decided departure from the iconic tortured-looking, imprisoned, character studies we have come to expect encountering. This new body of work relies upon, instead, a more realistic portrayal of personalities which have either well or lesser known identities to us, the public at large. Inspired by the work of French caricaturist, Honore Daumier, who was imprisoned in 1832 for his satire of King Louis Philippe, Seigenthaler’s newest work seems to serve likewise as commentary on issues and group identities like “the status quo” or “societal antagonists” or even as an examination of the creative spirit that resides within any given individual. Each “portrait” is symbolic representation of a larger world view. And it is with that vein of thought that each subject for the exhibition Portraits was selected, not only for the unique physical characteristics any one of them possessed, but, more importantly, chosen instead for the varied ideologies they represent.
A man of few words when it comes to analyzing his own work, Seigenthaler nevertheless speaks loudly and with full understanding when it comes to the execution of his craft. In this, his most recent body of work, the artist boldly blazes a new trail while never deserting the skillfulness and insightfulness of earlier passage-making. Like the twisting, capering creatures he earlier created, these too are so like us, telling us much about ourselves.