Write-ups and Critiques

The Sculpture of Adrian Mauriks

Adrian Mauriks is to sculpture what "muscular Christianity" is to religion; by which I mean that his is a no-nonsense approach which rides across sophistry, fashion, and over-refinement in search of what he sees as essential, sculptural essence. Like our "muscular Christian", Mauriks is quietly confident in his approach and seems to suffer from no doubts as to the validity of the path he is following, or the worth of what he is doing.

In neither case is existential doubt part of the equation.

The marked physicality in Mauriks' approach to sculpture is evident in his use of welded steel, his major medium. In his hand this difficult material is treated with such apparent ease and technical freedom, that it indicates a sculptor that is not only in complete control of his medium but able to extend its range to new ends.

Since completing post-graduate studies at the Victoria College of the Arts, Mauriks has established a reputation for his large scale works in steel. To date these sculptures have been seen only in solo shows, and in large group shows; neither of which situation has unfortunately, allowed him to be seen at full-stretch.

Even so, if we examine his past output it is clear that in Mauriks we have a sculptor capable of dealing with the problems of large scale sculpture conceived specifically for the open air display. He is a public sculptor by nature, (certainly he is no intimist agonizing about subtle shifts in relationship, or delicate nuances of color), and lacks only the patron, and the opportunity, to set him off creating imposing and, possibly, even great, monumental sculpture.

Over almost a decade Mauriks has produced sculpture which might best be described as narrative tableaux; one-act plays in welded steel, replete with symbolic and ritualistic overtones. While his sculpture is appreciated by his peers, it is also accessible to a much wider, non-specialist public; which reinforces my contention that his work is ideally suited for sitting in some public space which allows it to be seen by everyone.

Sculpture is of course an intellectual, and physical exercise. The sculptor's concept, no matter how original, has no existence as sculpture until realized in some concrete form, and sculpture without intellectual backbone is unlikely to amount to much. In the production of his sculpture Mauriks moves on two levels, attempting on occasion to give physical form to purely intellectual concepts, and discovering that there is no sculptural form in which an idea can be appropriately clothed. While his approach challenges the creative capacity of the sculptor and offers the possibility of great achievement it also contains the possibility of aesthetic chaos, and it must be admitted, not all of Mauriks' work has proved equally successful in sculptural terms.

In the new work, exhibited here for the first time, Mauriks has moved his work in what at first sight looks like a new direction - new medium, surface polychromed rather than allover black varnished steel, simple unitary forms, each consciously emulating the human figure - but the change in direction is more apparent than real, relying as it dose on the same combination of intellect and intuition as the earlier work.

The main thrust of the work comes about, almost without me, during the formation of ideas, certainly, I am unable to say what comes next, or how it will look. But once something concrete happens, an idea is formed or takes shape, or the process of germination has reached a point where images and objects become recognizable, I begin to apply a pragmatic decision making process to possible descriptions, in ways that satisfy my need to make visible this still vague idea, by using my past experiences to eliminate the unnecessary, direct my attention only at the central issue.

The symbolic, anthropomorphic strain in Mauriks' work is again evident in the work included in the present exhibition. Although less overt than previously, Mauriks' clearly conceives these columnar objects as figures.

Mostly carved or cut from wood, they are more than like singular forms, sentinels, signposts, primal idols, some male, some female, figurative in a way, solidified presences contained within the material, positive - negative, Yin and Yang, all of these words describe a little of what my intent might be.

Like many artists, Mauriks' creative response is stimulated, not so much by natural forms as it is by other art, and by ideas.

Conceptually his work seems to fall somewhere between the anthropomorphism of Henry Moore and the neo-tribalism of those artists who looked to the ritualistic overtones in the Italian movement, arte povera. In this sense his work is part of the continuing European tradition of sculpture.

The work is not just about one thing, being a continuous process, it is more like a series of discoveries and experiences made visible, like signposts along the way, to indicate where you are, and where you have been. You travel a road unknown to most, certainly unknown, in part, to yourself, and discover things along the way.

Sculptures, like orchestral conductors, mature slowly, (but go on working for a long time), and, given that Mauriks' post-art school career has lasted for less than a decade, we may yet expect great changes and an increasing profundity of content as he matures, as man and sculptor.

Graeme Sturgeon, 1986