In a series of works, two of which have been exhibited in ARTUNER’s curation The Realm of Objects and Ideas German artist David Czupryn appropriates the forms of works by the late Spanish sculptor Julio Gonzalez. Czupryn, a former sculptor, commonly integrates other works of art in his paintings, reconstituting these forms as surreal embodiments in lurid hues. Rendered in Czupryn’s hand, Gonzalez’s already uncanny figures become further removed from the organic reality of their subject matter. But Czupryn’s signature practice relates to Gonzalez’s own transversal of mediums; as Czupryn seeks to disembody and reassemble sculpture through painting, Gonzalez evoked gesture and fluid expression by sculpting metal.
Gonzalez was born in Barcelona in 1876 to a family of metalsmiths, and he was trained in this practice from a young age. However, when his creative impulse compelled him towards art, he did not regard this technical skillset as more than a trade. In this time, asserting works of wrought iron as sculpture remained an avant garde notion, and so Gonzalez opted to study painting and draughtsmanship. It was only later on in his life, after embarking on a collaborative working relationship with Pablo Picasso, that Gonzalez would regard his metalworking as integral to his artmaking.
Gonzalez desired to manipulate rigid metals into expressive marks of gesture, and the results are sculptures that can be aptly described as drawings in three dimensions. He interjects negative space with arches of metal, marking and molding space in a manner more resemblant of painting or drawing than cast or carved sculpture. Two works completed in the 1930s are especially characteristic of his signature style, Don Quixote and Harlequin. Each work is composed of wrought iron, pieces of metal fused in abstract angles to create uncanny representations of human-inspired subjects. They are also demonstrative of Gonzalez’s masterful handling of perspective, constructed such that new extensions and absences are revealed from each new viewpoint.
Compelled towards assemblage and the uncanny, Gonzalez’s interests as a sculptor have much in common with Czupryn, beginning with the German artist’s own progression between mediums. Initially concentrated on sculpture, Czupryn’s studies at the Düsseldorf Kunstakademie eventually compelled him to focus on painting, and this has been his prefered medium ever since. However, his sensibilities for texture and materiality have remained integral to his practice, as has the physical form of sculptures and objects. He began depicting his own three-dimensional artworks in paintings while still a student, and such physical sources have been a prominent characteristic of his work ever since. Employing the technique of trompe l’oeil, he depicts objects with illusive depth, using thinly applied layers of pigment to form seemingly tangible images.
Although David Czupryn works from observations and images of source artworks, he casts these objects through the lens of his own distinct vision, developing these figures into embodiments of the uncanny. This aspect is especially pronounced when he represents images and iconography from the canon of art history, as he further displaces their form and subject from natural reality.
In Czupryn’s work, Gonzalez’s Harlequin and Don Quixote find themselves reconstituted as multi-faceted assemblages in Czupryn’s plasticised mode of representation. Both of these sculptures depict human characters rendered through Gonzalez’s surrealist lens, drawn in three-dimensions with extensions of metal. He enacts his constructive vision through flat applications of pigment, emulating sculpture in two-dimensional space. In doing so, he challenges the palpability of man-made polymers and the divides between the organic and the oneiric, and the role of artificial technologies in closing the space between the two.
Gonzalez and Czupryn share a transversal progression and urge to question ontologies; just as Gonzales engineered a means to draw in three-dimensions, Czupryn reconstitutes sculpture within the picture plane. Their transversals between mediums extend in different directions, but their movements are parallel, as these shifts led both artists to find their signature means of expression, producing works that complicate the material and conceptual distinctions between mediums, and prompting viewers to question the palpability of their own realities.