Winner of the First@108 public art award 2013, Egyptian born Sam Shendi creates joyfully coloured abstractions of the human figure which, with the subtlest of indicators, hints at the complexity of human interactions.
He graduated in 1997 with a first class BA degree with honors from Helwen University of Fine Arts in Cairo. Shendi’s works references the work of “minimalism”, the style of paring-down design elements and focusing on the medium of steel, aluminum and paint. Some of his works are deceptively simple in form but include the qualities of metaphorical associations, symbolism and suggestions of spiritual transcendence, which is what the artist of the 60’s and 70’s were trying to avoid. His works whittles down the human figure to its simplest form enabling the exploration of the idea of the human form as a vessel. So by reducing the human body to a container or minimal shape, his creations become centered on an emotion or an expression. The simplicity is no longer the end result and devoid of meaning but a revelation of a hidden truth and intellectual expression. Shendi’s work, therefore takes a fine line between representation and abstraction. Whilst he appreciates the abstract form his interest is in the human and psychological dimensions to his sculptures. Stripping human nature down to its essence, and then expressing it in a sculptural language. Firmly based in modernist morphology his colorful architectural forms abbreviate the human figure and nod to his background in monumental sculpture and interior design. Shendi juxtaposes cartoonish lemon, ultraviolet and pumpkin-coloured blocks, conjuring associations with children’s toys and industrial design and lending his pieces an emotive and playful quality. His candy-coated palette animates the archetypal themes he addresses in his work. Assisted by the use of colour to deceive the eye, flouting a sense of gravity and taking the attention away from the material also gives the work a strong optical impact. Sometimes we may feel the tension which despite their moderate size almost bear a “˜’will to grow” into monuments that we could easily imagine standing in the center of any city or landscape. Pieces balance between public art, sculptural and on the border of design. With laconic titles his work takes on themes both in subject and style and it is clear to see pieces that group together in an exploration of an idea. They form a visual story and a unique style. 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 subjects, which are common, understandable and important to all of us, no matter what our taste, age or cultural background may be. Describing himself as a figurative sculptor it is important to Shendi that the work, however minimalistic still has an impact on the viewer visually and emotionally. Recognizing his work as both literally geometric forms and industrial materials but also with additional meaning in bringing back the idea of traditional academic sculpture of humanity and emotion, results in a distinctive blend of modernity and timelessness. See much more here