The Canadian Art Database

Robert Hedrick
Toronto (from a taped interview, 25 April 1967)

hedrick image
(click on image for larger size)

Untitled 1966
Bronze 371/2"H, 61/2"W, 61/2"D

For some time I was preoccupied with the concept of the unfinished form, with the physical force of change splitting the shell from within. But both these works for Sculpture '67 are completed forms with uncracked shells; and where the concept of change persists is in the psychic jerk of shifting qualifies. Untitled can be read one moment as an architectural column, the next as an anatomical limb, and yet again as a total organic–geometric synthesis. This mutation of my sculpture from one aspect of itself to another gives it a sense of time; just as the curious interplay between these complementary aspects and the total form produces a kind of surreal tension, I deal with so–called "figurative" images that are going through a "nature–process" of changes. This dream–device of juxtaposition, this seeing of one image through another, is used by painters like Rauschenberg.

In both Untitled and Horned Figure I was still involved with the isolated object. My next step was to take an organic form and relate it architecturally to an environment. This I did with Marine Venus at Expo 67, where the architectural geometry of the base itself interacted with the organic form in a kind of synthesis through opposition.

My enduring concern is still with the dual character of "nature–process" as both an organic and an architectural state; and though my structural format becomes increasingly geometriC, that "other", the organic, is always implicit.

Art, for me, exists only in the synthesis of these two states.

Most recently, I have involved myself with the problem of geometry within a controlled space, as in the modular Endless Column of Brancusi. To walk towards this Brancusi is to become vividiy aware of man's relation to architecture; to walk away is to be aware of architecture's relation to man. This experience is the fundamental lesson of architectural scale, which Giacometti applied to the human figure, but which few other sculptors have understood. I believe strongly that a sculptor must be as concerned with scale as with what he wants to say. I can make images right, left and centre: but what does that say? My problem is to rescale these images. Scale is the means. Scale, in Fact, is the statement. Understanding of scale is the crucial point from which art and architecture can begin to relate.

A sense of speeding time is the bug–bear of the modem artist. But for myself, I have a tendency to stop and look back, to retrace my steps and see where I have been. I am concerned with the lastingness not just of sculpture as an object, but also of the idea that it expresses. By referring to that idea over a period of time, I continue to learn more from it. The current popularity of the "disposable" concept arises, I think, because it allows the individual a susposed freedom from the bonds and baggage of the past. But are the objects of the past really baggage? I believe that form is memory. If you reject or destroy the objects which represent form – the sculpture or architecture of any historical period – you are actually denying your own evolutionary past.

hedrick portrait

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