A Vocabulary of Trees
In this body of work Robert Braczyk has taken the breakthroughs that Picasso and Gonzalez made with open form, welded iron and applied them to elements from trees. From the early 30’s to the present the vast majority of such open form sculpture was/is carried out in metal. Though there are obvious similarities between wood and metal, there are also fundamental distinctions. Among other things metal has plasticity, fusibility and great tensile strength. Wood, particularly the upper branches that Mr. Braczyk chooses to work with have other distinct qualities. Like all wood they are lighter than metal and are worked differently. More to the point, they have been alive and have come into existence through the forces of DNA and the environment. They arrive with organic characteristics that determine aspects of how they are used.
Different species may be variations on a theme, but in general trees stretch to capture the sun’s energy in opposition to gravity and are therefore more about length than width. As such the branches that are used here provide a variety of long gently tapering rods, sweeping curves, jogs and forked joints. In nature these aspects taken together manifest the form of each tree. Though selection, recombining and mutability are the artist’s strategy, these characteristic growth patterns assert themselves making sculpture from such components a most direct dialogue with nature. The material itself is a subject.
This persistence of character suggests to the artist “a vocabulary of trees” analogous to an alphabet that is the matrix for words and sentences. As letters and syllables are recombined relative to rules of verbal syntax wooden elements have a physical syntax, a natural structural logic that effects how they can be recombined.
At a time in the art world when bigger has become an aesthetic quality and sculpture can often be architectural in experience, Mr. Braczyk chooses to make intimate sculpture that are to be looked into rather than out of. These sculptures are intended to please, to attract and to exist harmoniously in close proximity with us. Importantly, their modest scale also allows him to maintain full control of the process.
Three dimensionality is key in the artist’s thinking and most pieces are designed to reveal multiple compositions from varying angles and distances. To suggest this complexity the website illustrates each with at least two views. These sculptures are of course best experienced with both eyes and in the round.
As an environmentalist Mr. Braczyk hopes his work provokes thought on these beautiful life forms that most often volunteer to inhabit the world with us.
Global warming is the greatest threat that has ever faced humans.