Egyptian born sculptor Sam Shendi’s work explores the relationship between vertical and horizontal and the interplay of gravity whilst simultaneously exploring the human figure.
Knowing his work, it’s hardly surprising that his educational background lay in Monumental and Architectural Sculpture. Sometimes we may feel the tension even in the most current sculptural pieces, which despite their moderate size almost bear a ‘’will to grow’’ into monuments that we could easily imagine standing in the centre of any city or landscape.
Studying at Helwen University of Fine Arts in Cairo his degree focused mainly on producing large pieces of sculpture for public spaces. He graduated in 1997 with a first class BA degree with honors and opened his own Interior Design office. In 2000 he moved from Egypt to the UK and consequently took time to build a body of work due to the insistence of producing a high quality of work. Never quite able to shake the legacy of his country’s history, durability and beauty are the upmost of importance in his work. But truly, who else should be a better specialist in monumental creation than a sculptor born in Egypt?
Not surprisingly, even this fact counts to the influences clearly visible in Shendi’s work: The most simplified geometrical forms and solids in his sculptures come together with hidden symbolism of obelisks, sun-balls or golden eggs, and most recently also with illumination in bright primary colours.
The construction of every pyramid was based on universal rules of mathematical proportion. That’s why all Shendi’s work is perfectly balanced and contained within the law of the ‘Golden Section’, or if you prefer ‘Divine Proportion’. Verticality and horizontality constantly challenge gravity, which is systematically controlled by the sequence of Fibonacci’s code. The works are uniquely bold and playful which interact with the viewer, like star gates they project you into a different world, one that is never hostile. It’s like being held in a brightly-coloured, friendly embrace.
Ever since he was a student he has been interested in exploring steel as a medium using scrap metals and car parts. His current body of work, mostly rendered in steel, are cut from sheets and welded, to produce perfect angles and lines. The manipulation of the steel, aids the way the light falls on the pieces giving them a friendly almost weightless look, impervious to the power of gravity. Assisted by the use of colour to deceive the eye, flouting a sense of gravity and taking the attention away from the material. Also giving the work a strong optical impact.
These sculptures are like three-dimensional pictures. They are subtle reminders that the line of art history is not broken. In them we can readily find linguistic loops from Brancusi and Gerrit Thomas Rietveld. These imageries undergo a ‘conceptual remix’ in Sam’s poetic sculptures, not far removed from the masters of 1970s Minimalism, Donald Judd and Ellsworth Kelly.
Firmly based in architectural forms, geometrical elements and modernist morphology he brings in a twist of fun and playfulness, sometimes evolving into pieces rather balancing on the border of design, sometimes developing into sculptures of very unique artistic expression. Yet going with Shendi through his career since the beginning, we can see a clear tendency towards abstraction, beginning with rather traditional sculptures of a strong modernist influence, and slowly evolving into simpler and simpler elements, which then form his most recent pieces. The final finished works take a fine line between representation and abstraction, stripping human nature down to its essence, and then expressing it in a sculptural language.
There is always one important element, functioning as a keystone connecting all his creation – the theme of a human being in his most genuine form. Shendi always develops his creation around themes, which are common, understandable and important to all of us, no matter what our taste, age or cultural background may be. His aim is to stimulate the audience into thinking about the message in each piece making us reflect upon our actions. The viewer is left with an impression of the corners of our future.