Carefully situated between ‘representation’ and ‘abstraction’, the candy-coloured figures of Yorkshire-based Egyptian-born sculptor Sam Shendi easily resemble children’s toys. Made of steel and aluminium, they are minimalistic projections of human bodies and states of mind – executed in paints that shine blood red, cartoonish lemon, ultraviolet and pumpkin orange.
Sam, who graduated from the Helwan University of Fine Arts in Cairo in 1997, whittles down physical structure and mental orientation so that he can – through simplicity – magnify a particular emotional or intellectual expression.
His bright and joyful pieces are vessels or containers that disclose hidden truths. They are laconically titled: “Atlas”, “Signature”, “Mother and Child”, “Eve”, “The Sperm”. Thematically, they remain universal – accessible to all despite differences of taste, age or cultural background. Highly inventive, cool and monumental, these are works of art that will only escalate in value to staggering amounts over the coming years and decades.
While most artists freely incorporate elements from the works of luminaries in their fields, Sam prefers to maintain a distance from the practices of other sculptors. He finds isolation productive. He says: “I don’t have an artist which has inspired me as such and I don’t follow artists to get inspiration. I studied history of art as part of my undergraduate study in Cairo. Even then, I tried to, as much as possible, avoid connections with others. Since 2008, I have separated myself completely from others and the contemporary art world in order to create original work and so my imagination is not corrupted by others.”
Are his Egyptian roots reflected in his art? Sam comments: “Egyptian art history is mostly focused on figurative human study from ancient times until now. I guess being Egyptian and having my education there has influenced the fact that my work uses the human figure, as a subject to present concepts in my work.”
Sam strongly believes in the educational and social value of art. For a 2014 feature on Telegraph and Argus (a daily from West Yorkshire), he remarked: “I don’t want to give the next generation something rude or shocking. I want to give them something colourful, engaging and inspiring. I want people to understand that art can be an education…Art should be created so the public can engage with it. I want my art to change somebody. I don’t want people saying ‘it is so sweet’. I want people to look at it, to think about it, and to know that this minimalistic sculpture comes from realism.”
Sam Shendi is a member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors. He won its prestigious First@108 Public Art Award in 2013. His sculptures have been exhibited in Bradford, Blackpool, London, Amsterdam, Munich and other places.
Links: Website (www.samshendi.co.uk) | Saatchi Art (www.saatchiart.com/account/profile/296286) | Facebook (www.facebook.com/SamShendiSculptor) | Instagram (www.instagram.com/sam_shendi) | Twitter (@SamShendi).
Images used with permission.