I happened to be at the National Gallery of Australia yesterday when I noticed this statue in the main hall and was immediately struck by the concept.
The statue is set in a continuous cycle of melting and recasting representing life and impending death and possible resurrection.
It is made of wax and was burned like a candle, inside the gallery, for six months.
It is made by a Swiss artist Urs Fischer who uses wax a lot as material. Fischer has been described by the arts and culture magazine Vault as “internationally celebrated” and one of the most significant contemporary artists working today. He has been displaying his work all over the world since the mid-1990s.
National Gallery of Australia acquired this statue for one million dollars and it has been on display since mid-March 2019. It had been ignited every day till mid-August. Its head had fallen off as one piece and lay on the platform. Miraculously, the arm carrying the smartphone has escaped the flame.
Mostly the works of art are made to be permanent. Sometimes they are ephemeral. But this, new acquisition of the gallery both. Its debris will be sent to Zurich to be re-casted from its mold and installed again in the gallery and the process of burning and melting will start again.
What made me stand there in amazement is the shift in the art in the 21st-century. It is not static, it is alive and always changing, reflecting the world in which we live.
The statue is the depiction of the lauded Italian art curator Francesco Bonami, a friend of Urs Urs Fischer who is sanding on top of an open refrigerator stacked with fruit and vegetables all made of wax. The figure is holding a mobile phone, in a pose so typical of our era.