All of my works are color-sprayed cut-outs from thin aluminum sheets. The subjects are landscapes, scenes, with a lot of animals, some people. Mainly grotesque, rarely realistic.
Whenever I would draw doodles during boring meetings, or proctoring exams, they were of creatures, more often imaginary than real.
Why animals? I think that the forms of real animals, fish, birds (etc.) are fascinating, beautiful and diversified, and often unexpected when you look at them closely—especially the things that nature invented to intimidate and scare other animals. The animal forms inspire creativity, especially when you abandon the need for the actual representation and direct functionality of naturally evolved features. This gives you a sense of freedom from convention, from reality and triviality.
For these reasons, I think, I have always been fascinated by the paintings of Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Hieronymus Bosch (especially The Garden of Earthly Delights) and Henri Rousseau filled with strange animals. I also enjoy the works of Marc Chagall, Franz Marc, Paul Klee, Joan Miro’ (not to mention Picasso), whose love of creatures—real or imaginary—I share.
I also have tried other forms: portrait, landscape (including urban), nature mort, and abstract forms: they all come out pretty decently as cut-outs. The elements of paradox, absurd and grotesque, which I so admire in Bosch, come to me naturally, I think, as a way to express distance from the harshness of life, from taking challenges of existence too literally or too seriously. At its core, the use of irony and absurd joke is a distinct part of East European culture, in which I grew up. But look again at Bosch and Brueghel, Chagall, and Miró, all the caricature tradition, to realize that it is not so unique. Art, for me is meant to give joy and bring fun, occasionally a reflection.
I am a self-taught artist. Except for basic university art courses, I do not have professional training. But I love art !!!
My cut-outs are made from aluminum sheets, roughly 0.3 millimeter thick, which I buy at Home Depot or Lowes. The material’s more common use is for roofing, valley flashings, near roof vents and the like. It costs nothing. My main cutting tools are nail scissors. They are sufficiently strong for the sheet thickness I use. Before I start, I first visualize what I want to present. Then I draw those things on a piece of paper, to manage composition and proportions. Then I re-draw them on my piece of aluminum using wax-pencils, which adhere well to aluminum. To start a cut from the middle of the sheet I first make holes in metal with a small flathead screwdriver using a hammer. Then I insert my scissors and cut, and cut, and cut. I chose aluminum also because the edges of the cuts are rough and rugged, and this is the way I like them.
Each cut-out is made from a single piece of metal, which is not always the case with traditional paper cut-outs. For instant, Matisse’s cut-outs are from separate, often superimposed, pre-colored pieces, as they evolved from collages, quite á la mode in his time. Because I cut from a single piece of aluminum, the connection between the elements of the picture is critical for the structural integrity of the result and needs careful planning. I do not use glue (except in case of a disaster), or welding (aluminum cannot be welded). I often arrange smaller pieces as mobiles, like Calder’s. Being light, with a relatively large surface, they turn around quite vigorously in air-conditioned rooms.
My cut-outs are best seen against the light, so I often hang them on windows, framed with a double glass or plexiglass and a veil paper background. Then they play mainly through shade and light contrast. A front-light adds a touch of color.
EXHIBITIONs (just starting)
2016 - Duo exhibition (with Amilcare and Gigi Porporato) - Fitzpatrick Atrium Duke University, November 15, 2016
2017- Juried Exhibition -Resolutions 2017- at Hillsborough Gallery of Art, People's Choice award for "Après le Deluge, Nous" or Noah's Ark, 2014, http://www.tomaszhueckel.com/art-gallery/
2018- Juried Exhibition -Resolutions 2018- at Hillsborough Gallery of Art, People's Choice award for "Purely Ornamental", 2017, http://www.tomaszhueckel.com/art-gallery/