Exotic Nouveau is a beautiful piece from the Faces of Beauty series created by Thomas Blackshear. The fact that this man is prolific is undeniable. But, this work in particular is very unique in relation to Blackshear’s usual practice. This form of sculpture is referred to as bas-relief (Bas is french for low). A reductive method in which the masses that protrude from the surface are very slight. Another stipulation for a bas-relief sculpture is that no part of the modeled form is undercut (not visible from a frontal angle). Usually such work is mounted on the wall. But this piece has been designed to sit upon any surface as if were a free-standing sculpture. The result is the aesthetic of a mask.
The mask, has forever been a staple in the rituals of civilizations spanning all of the earth and of history. Taking on the face of another identity has always been its purpose. Though the identity and the implications behind its use differ from culture to culture. Usually the masks of archaic cultures represented archetypes such as: the prince, the beautiful goddess, the jester etc. Thomas brings this aesthetic together with the aesthetic of Greek Classicism, namely Michelangelo (Her eyes look just like David’s don’t they!?). Resulting in a beautiful mask-like portrait of the archetypical African princess.
Thomas utilizes his coined palate of tertiary colors to accent this wonderful portrait. Creating beautifully buoyant lotus flowers, elegantly dangling earrings, and charmingly radiant jewelry. All of which stand out in relation to the smooth beige of the material, framing the majestically rendered wooden mask.
However my favorite part is the black wooden frame. Which demands space for this wonderful piece and creates an interesting background out of any spare space in one’s home. I love that the once drab wallpaper above my bookcase is now the seperate backdrop for this elegant princess!
Review Written by James Sprang