Monday, 17 March 2014

Steel Filigree

“Life is filigree work. What is written clearly is not worth much; it’s the transparency that counts”, stated Louis-Ferdinand Céline, French writer and one of the most influential authors of the twentieth-century. Contradictory? Maybe not so much if we bear in mind that it is contradiction that often assigns sense to life and makes visible what would, otherwise, be invisible.

Céline’s statement seems to fit like a glove Cal Lane’s art, one made of opposites, which gives transparency to what is opaque. In fact, she is a sculptor and welder who turns ordinary objects into filigree artworks, using reclaimed steel such as spades, shovels, wheelbarrows, oil drums or car doors and her art pieces come to life through the use of an industrial blowtorch.

Born in 1968 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, Cal Lane grew up in Saanichton, British Columbia, and she now lives in California. Having started as a hairdresser in her mother’s salon in Victoria, she was always a tomboy and she found that welding offered her the medium for the perfect combination of masculine and feminine vocations which is condensed in her work. She is concerned about rendering the opposing relationships of domestic and industrial life, strong and delicate, practical and frivolity, ornament and function.

Actually, Lane’s work is all about contrasts: the industrial and the fanciful, the opaque and the transparent, the heavy metal and the lightness of the filigree-like work that is her final product. She first creates her patterns in cut paper, which is then translated into metal, resulting in awesome installations lit from the inside and projecting stunning shadows on walls around them. The filigree effect is all-present, transparency giving consistency to opacity. Contrast achieved in the most glorious way!

Extremely beautiful and eerie as her artwork is, it has, however, gained more and more weight and meaning as Cal Lane has assigned it with a deeper dimension by expressing through it her indignation towards the value society gives to consumption and war. The contrasts in her art are meant to underline and emphasize the incongruous social structures and excesses of our times.

Ultimately, Cal Lane’s use of delicate patterns of lace carved into the industrial surface of steel, disclosing the comparison and contrast of materials and ideas, addresses the function of both exposing and concealing to which Céline alluded in his statement about life: “it is the transparency that counts”.

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