Muscatine Art Center

Muscatine, IA



Ultra-realistic Sculpture by Marc Sijan

July 8 - September 3, 2001


Marc Sijan's Superrealistic sculptures are "homages to humanity's fascination with its own forms -- a fascination which has compelled artists throughout the millennia to mirror life in virtually every medium." Sijan's figures are incredibly lifelike, sensuous and graceful. In fact, they are so lifelike, they seem always on the verge of movement, a mere instant away from action. The pores in the skin, the tiny hairs, and veins; even the bald spots, the blemishes, the individual shapes of the faces that make human beings so similar, yet so unique: These are the essence of what makes Marc Sijan's work so arresting. (left: Standing with Pedestal, 1996; right: Legs Folded, 1990)

Sijan, a Milwaukee-based artist, carries on the tradition of a very old form, but his approach is very modern. His realism recalls the work of the Greek sculptors in its bold expression of human energy and poise. But Sijan is not necessarily celebrating the ideal form. His figures are more gritty, more natural -- a tribute to real people. Sijan's work is similar to that of fellow artists Duane Hansen and John DeAndrea, who use lifelike human figures to express elements of the human condition and human relationships. But whereas his colleagues tend to express a kind of static existence, Sijan tries to capture a life force in full swing.

"I am seeking to freeze motion rather than suggest life," he notes. "The sculpture appears passive, but there is so much going on inside." (left: Baseball Player, 1999)

Sijan received his Bachelor's degree in art education from the University of Wisconsin in 1968, then went on to complete a Master of Science in Art degree three years later. It was then that he began to sculpt the human figure. His work has won him recognition throughout the country, with over 40 one-man museum exhibitions throughout North America."

His inspiration? Michelangelo's David. Sijan has always been intrigued with the instinctive and sensitive way the artist treated that famous form, and with the incredible attention Michelangelo paid to details of anatomy. Sijan included anatomy among his own course work, and combined it with the very latest methods in sculptural casting and modeling. (right: Hand on Knee, 1999)

His goal was to create sculpture that could stand alone, on the verge of movement, yet somehow remain deeply silent and "spiritual." "The human figure is one of the most challenging subjects to work with," he said. "1 am working to develop a niche of my own where I can develop a believable figurative sculpture that works not only on a visual level, but on a deeper more emotional level." (left: Bathing Beauty, 1999 and Seated Man-Shopper, 1999)

Sijan's method is distinct and exacting. First, he works from live models, to produce a negative mold in plaster, and sculpts the interior with special tools and a magnifying glass to assure accurate detail. Then, he casts the figure in a polyester resin. To achieve realistic flesh tones, Sijan applies 25 coats of paint -- and adds varnish. Sijan uses oil paint in the final stages of the work. (right: Security Guard Seated, 1995)

"The goal is to achieve depth, yet translucency," he says. "It can't be flat. The chest and throat texture is different from that of the arms, legs and stomach. Facial skin differs from that on the torso." To achieve the remarkably realistic product on view here today, Sijan looks for "variations." Those are the millions of individual features we all possess -- goosebumps, skin imperfections, skin color, sunburn, birthmarks, age spots -- and Sijan spends as long as six months reproducing this detail on one piece.

The above text is excerpted from an essay by Ruth Sternberg, formerly of The Canton Institute of Art. Exhibition organized by Smith Kramer Fine Art Services, Kansas City, MO.

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