Paul Cahan

Figurative Works

When I create a piece with a particular person in mind, I I bend the metal by hand, or sometimes by heating first. The materials are shaped and merged in a semi-abstract form where many feelings are self-evident. Working on the piece becomes a relationship, the form develops until the whole emerges and flows as one. When completed, I’m sad. There was a relationship of sorts between me and the shapes. The final work has to feel alive; it is often a complex, unique figure. (See photos of “Infatuation 1 and 2”) If I don’t have that feeling, it’s not a successful work. Good art expresses much more than words can describe. The interpretation changes over time as each person views it in his or her own way. I view it differently also over time, figures are complex.

The “I-Beam” piece is a self-portrait, a combination of experiences. Pain expressed in the sharp edges, lost intimacy, lost trust…the head is in sharp contrast from the smooth and gentle curves. The top of the piece, an I-Beam, which represents the head, is angular, dissonant from the shape of the body as when I ducked to avoid a bullet that would have gone through my head when I was shot at while driving a taxi in Boston in 1985. The head protrudes from the whole form but is in balance with the I-Beam on the base which grounds the work with two I-Beam “feet”. The insides are empty space, vulnerable. One can see through barriers, the “space” of life that once saved my life. This piece just flowed out of me. It was assembled in a few days.

Work in my other galleries, such as the ‘music” gallery are often figurative as well.

Many of my sculptures are about suffering; such as the Homage to Egon Schiele. Working with steel allows me the creative freedom to twist the metal, shape it like real wounds, show the pain that is a part of life that most people can relate to in one way or another. (See Pain Gallery)

“The Kandinsky Portrait” in contrast, is unique. Vasily Kandinsky was the artist who began non-objective painting. In my portrait his head became the canvas. The “painting” is placed inside the sculpture’s abstracted head. I referred to Kandinsky’s abstract paintings while choosing the shapes and colors of each section.

My figurative sculptures feel like spirits. A few of the figurative artists who’s work have touched me deeply are the cubists, German Expressionists as Ludwig Meidner, Kathe Kollwitz, Barlach, David Smith, Hans Arp.

The earth has given us Giacometti-like fragility. Pushed by winds and weather we bend and sometimes break. Our insides are a vast universe in constant change. The tension of Utah’s rock bridges are reflected in my tall figures.

When my tall works are outside, (like the first piece, “Pablo) the long pieces of metal sway in the wind. Limbs sing when the air pushes them to move.

Jan. 2015

Please click on images thumbnails for larger view:


Portrait of Kandinsky
Head 1
Untitled 2002
Untitled 2002
Inside 1
Inside 3
Couple Sculpture
Hackensack River Soxophonist
Kiss 1 Found Objects
Kiss 2 Found Objects
Meditation Blues
Mediation Two Blues
Mediation Green
Egon Schiele Homage
Egon Schiele Homage



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