Daniel Zampino Philosophy of Stone
In this survey of slate sculptures is a collection of some eighty five slate reliefs. These sculptures are roughly twenty four inches high by twenty inches wide, with variations. As reliefs, human characters are featured in the foreground, with a background that either engenders a scene that complements the foreground figures; or is merely left rough-hewn.
The sculptural forms are waxed, but never painted, showcasing the contrast of light and dark. As reliefs, the emphasis is on the lines, rather than color, in the way it creates an effect. The works, because they are reliefs, are suggestive to the eye, forcing the viewer to complete the respective image of each work. The result is, for those who have the patience to ‘look,’ a place for each viewer to engage the work, as well as engage him- or herself in the process. There is, in this stylized imagery, a concerted effort to convey stories that are sometimes spelled out in accompanying narratives, or poems – either of my own making, or of my own choosing; or in images that seem to speak – or sing – for themselves. As I approach my work, the slate form lends me the powers and the latitude to induce stories – combining pictorial form with the written word. The motifs and content are varied – centered around images that range from the purely mythic, invoking, for instance, Saint George the Dragon Slayer, or the River Styx; or Biblical, drawing on figures such as the Prophets, or the figure of Abraham; historical, a reference, as in one sculpture, to Columbus, and in another, to an Inkan warrior being burned at the stake; literary, inspired, say, by characters in Dante or Dostoyevsky; to semi-historical, reenacting the legendary figure of Pakal, the king of Palenque, in Chipas, Mexico; to prophetic (in the modern sense), with allusions to the atomic bomb, and the prophecies that seem to track its invention; to social, speaking to the issues of family life, or of the homeless, or class conflict; or to love, in its romantic forms; or even to the purely artistic, with characters in various poses of dance and song. The technique I practice is deliberately simple, with a carving knife, improvised and atypical, and a hammer and a chisel. I operate on the theory that – to paraphrase an old Native American hunting strategy – the tool should never get in the way of the work.