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The Pansy Studies, 2013 - ?, Remise, Zürich

- A large terracotta relief.
- An ice skating hermaphrodite.
- Pansies.
- A pipe.
- A lantern.
- A model of the uranium form inside the first atomic bomb.
- An animal making music or sound.
- An ice field with a looping trace.
- The empty locomotive garage in Zürich.

Next to the main station in Zürich in the cavernous Remise,
a disused space where locomotives once were repaired,
where iron tracks remain imbedded in the concrete floor,
sculptor Nicholas Micros presents models and studies for
a monumental relief sculpture he will create using industrial
clay and then fire in the Schumacher and Hochdorf ceramic
building block factories in Switzerland.

Curiously, relief sculpture, an old staple of the statue maker,
is a largely neglected in art today. The proposed work
entitled Pansy (a quaint American slang term for a less than
manly man) will measure 10 x 15 feet and depict an ice
skating hermaphroditic figure who smokes a pipe. The
mixed-sex figure of myth (child of Hermes and Aphrodite)
will be engulfed in a ring of Pansies, a common flower and
a symbol for free thought. The figure presents representations
of matter and light, destruction and hope: In one hand a
model of the uranium form hidden inside the first atomic
bomb, and in the other, an old fashioned lantern. The work is
inspired by two stylistically opposite masterpieces from
entirely different epochs by two great American sculptors:
Daniel Chester French´s figurative upright bronze memorial
relief Death and the Sculptor (1893) and Isamu Noguchi´s
abstract granite horizontal relief Momo Taro (1977). Each
works represent the apex and terminus of the art of their
respective eras.

During the daily working process in the studio, the artist
moved spontaneously from one found material to the other.
Much depended on chance: One day hard stone and metal
were shaped, the next, soft fabric or papier machè.

In Pansy, Micros continues a longstanding investigation of
“traditional” sculptural forms and materials, hierarchies and
received notions of manhood. He works like a monument
maker who prepares for and executes grand commissions.
Technically, he creates, preserves, destroys and recreates
at the same time. Like a modernist, he works directly and
robustly with materials himself. Strong figurative and abstract
imagery are often juxtaposed.

Stasis and movement are symbolically explored. In earlier
works, figures are positioned on round bases (Lullaby,
and express a cyclical return. In Pansy the free
style pattern created on the ice as the figure endlessly skates
over its path, forms a large abstract expressionist-like
drawing. Movement is however bordered by the frame. An
animal will appear in the scene with the figure, creating a
composition similar to annunciation images from Christian
art. Due to the size of the projected work, the relief will be
broken into moveable pieces to facilitate firing in the kiln. The
finished panel will be refitted for installation and the pattern
of the cracks will be a visible, important part of the work.

Although the relief will be made with common brick clay, the
studies are made of materials found laying about the artist’s
studio. These include: aluminum foil, ash, ceramic, a chain-
fall, clay, copper, fabric, lighting, limestone, marble, metal,
pallets, paper, plaster, rabbit skin glue, salvaged gravestones,
sand, sandstone, shelving, wall paper paste, wax, wire and
wood. The studies draw freely on diverse imagery that may
appear in the work such as lanterns, animals, anatomical
details, flowers and the oddly beautiful abstract form hidden
in the first atomic bomb.

In order to create a studio-storage atmosphere in the raw
space of the Remise, the works will be presented informally
on tables, shelves and pallets. In general, the pedestal will
be targeted for experimentation and play. Doubling back
on received notions of material hierarchies, many of the
studies are fashioned from stuff more permanent than the
proposed relief.

The exhibition is an homage to sculpture, materials and the
joyful work of hand and mind, but also questions and
extends the nature of the sculptural study and argues the case
for it to be viewed as an independent art form as well.
Rodin’s bronze Gate of Hell relief comes to mind. Although
it was never installed at its intended site or even  cast in
bronze in the artists lifetime, it became a kind of chalkboard
of ideas for the sculptor and inspired many independent and
vital works.

The Pansy Studies draw freely from the history of sculpture
and creates a sprawling, haphazard, second hand shop-like
installation too. Contrasting forms, concepts, textures and
colors exist effortlessly side-by-side. It is suspended in a no
mans land between figuration/abstraction, intuition/theory,
creation/destruction, nature/man, painting/sculpture and

Some works will be created in the studio just for the show
and later destroyed. Taking advantage of the workshop
character of the Remise, the artist will continue to form new
larger temporary studies in clay and plaster during the
exhibition as well, a reminder of labors once performed there.
Further studies will be created even after the larger
“monument” is complete. The work group appears to have
no discernable end.

[ → german text by Rolf Staub ]

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