Pensive Mechanical Bodhisattva
2010 by Ziwon Wang
Wang’s sculptures are strange and beautiful juxtapositions between the serenity of white porcelain and the gleam of exposed metal. While smooth white stone has outlined the bodies of men proudly for generations, metal components are industrially internal — the bare workings of what lies behind encasement — yet Wang puts the mask and machine alongside one another. More than this, Wang has the machine encase the human; in one of Wang’s most absorbing sculptures a mechanised lotus flower, with curling Modernist talons, opens and closes slowly round the seated figure of a man. Wang seeks to explore, or indeed make a point, about the relationship between humans and machines — perhaps even prodding at the question of happiness and control. What is so quietly poignant in Wang’s sculpture is the calm and poised simplicity of his sublimely composed figures compared to the harsh and sharp edges of bare metal. One cannot help but weigh up the purity of naturalism against contrived technology. The legs of Pensive Mechanical Bodhisattva are shrouded in the elegant and tactile folds of material taken from the classics, carrying the base and open bare feet. However the top of the body is detached, cut short from flowing so harmoniously — the fingers, unlike the toes, are separated joint to joint. The spine has been replaced and the head moves from wires coming up the back. Yet, despite this fragmentation, the face remains placid, overpowering any tension between material. Wang’s faces are forcefully strong, illustrating the power of human expression despite the tensions of our technology.