The sculptures of Michael Esbin treat the phenomenon of the flow of time, of a cosmic order, deep nature of matter through the movement of time on a level of the normal passing of time.
His method of movement is more in the passing of time on a cosmic level in the universe.
Since the 1980s, Esbin’s style of forms has not represented a directly identifiable reality. His approach seems related with constructivism or with geometrical art. In fact, the forms are those that constitute the structure of the mineral elements and the organization of matter. His is an exercise of pure perception exteriorized with a minimum of means whose artifice is excluded, and the simplicity of the geometrical form facilitated in the mental apprehension of other spaces and difficult which each one also answers in a personal way.
“I regard my work as that of a medium amplifying this emanation. The stone has another life, the life of the planet. We walk on this ground, we see it in its mountains and lets us feel it under our feet as a real and durable base. It is the heritage of our planet and it becomes a touchstone to establish measurement, the command and the reality of our world. The optimum conditions are met when two energies, those of the artist and the stone are channeled, i.e. when I associate the spirit of the stone in my work of sculpture, my view of the form and my intellectual ideas. The whole of these elements must form part of the sensual quality of a successful sculpture.”
At this time the force of suggestion in the work becomes all extensive, and reflects the authenticity from which it results.
“My idea, as well as it is on the metaphysical level as spiritual, is to create a sculpture which makes it possible to feel this concept of time. In “Tibetan Sun XF-16″ and also in the sculpture MU XM-97 where the cubes are hanging from the wall and yet giving the impression of flying though it which brings back all to the idea that time passes by. It is a circular ring with a face turned over on itself or the cubes in the wall which I feel them strongly attached to the element of time.”
The impression of life in sculpture does not rest any longer on its usual expression. The sculptor does not seek an essential or a reduced form but a productive form.
“The function of my art does not consist to imitate the forms of nature, but to imitate its activity and to return it to an image by means of plastic equivalents.”
Thus Esbin invents a certain number of elements of plastic vocabulary which open new horizons to him and, for example, subjects them to the use of the polished marbles which makes burst contours of the form. The reflection of the light opens the form with the reflection of the chance which surrounds it, and then the matter starts to vibrate in the light. It is in the spirit of Brancusi for which “a true form should wake up the impression of infinite form. Surfaces should be of a continuous nature returning to infinity, to come out of the mass, and to emerge to carry out a perfect and absolute existence.” The reflection of surface, the material-matter is transformed thus into energy which is propagated. During his first years of studies in New York, Michael Esbin followed the traces of Jean Arp while without being aware of it. It was not until one of his famous professors; Richard Serra showed the existence of this direct link to him. Sol LeWitt would have preferred to see him adopting a more modern material, but Esbin had the taste of the stone, the feeling which the stone is a living element.
“It was not something that came as an intellectual discovery; it was something very primal as a thing that came inside the stone almost of itself coming out. It is not only physical, owing to lack of a more precise term I think of the spiritual quality which emanates from the stone, spiritual in the sense that it lives not only in the biological direction but more which is the spirit.”
After his studies, Michael Esbin walked on only with obstinacy, in the path that he cultivated. Its topics, its forms, its styles are personal as much as its universal myths can divert. Happy to have found his way apart from the standards and the ideologies in fashion, he does not claim to invent but help to retain.
“There is a relation with mathematical order, even if I do not feel that I specifically with my work or through my work made an effort to be in the way of constructivism. Being parallel, perhaps converging, for me is more important. I value these ideas, from constructivism and early constructivism from the Russians to Max Bill, but I never tried to use it as a theoretical basis for my work. It came more as intuitive ideas, a combination of intuitive analytic aesthetic conscious stream to talk with an analogy or metaphor. This should translate this feeling, this need to introduce the concept of time into my sculptures. For me, it is a progress.”
One does think of Max Bill who tried to abolish the barriers between the artistic intuition and scientific knowledge; also of Brancusi’s intuition or the perception of reality and art impressed with scientific theories. One finds this community of references among other founders of the modern abstraction, Kandinsky, Kupka, Malévitch and Mondrian. The reference to the cube and simple geometrical figure that occupies a fundamental place in the work of Sol LeWitt is found in the parallelepipeds as in the mystics “MU”.
“It is precisely my desire to create a sculpture in the direction of the geometric abstraction, which incarnates this principle of the cosmic dynamism and evokes a link with this concept of an animated universe. The abstraction becomes thus a means or a way revealing the most powerful aspects and major forces of nature in the way most directly accessible.”
The impression of perfection can appear illusionary as in this surface of meteorite on a cube.
“It was not a conscious decision of creating this surface of meteorite. This impression came as a development by initially working the cube in a preoccupation with perfection. I wanted to create a homogeneous texture which seems to come from the cosmos, the idea of a quasi-perfect geometrical form corroded by the voyage in space. The form seems perfect but we know, since Brancusi that it is not. I believe to have added already to quoted elements an additional key due to the pleasure of creation.”
“It is relatively easy. We have been told by scientists and are lead to believe that all animate and inanimate matter in the world is vibrating. The atoms inside are continually moving, nothing is really static any longer in a sense that everything is in movement even the solid objects of stone and mountains. So, of course, they are solid objects and solid, bodies, but inside each all is in constant motion. Under the appearance of being static everything is in flux, everything is in movement magnetic, electrical, radiation. As I feel again, intuitively but also rationally that in relation to the world, with the moving of time.”
These various processes require a precise organization and do not leave any room for error when, for example, making inclusions of marbles of different colours. On location in Carrara, Italy, one can see the marble extracts from the quarries, which overhang in the city. These monumental masons receive blocks from the whole world: granites and colored marbles mostly varied according to their geological origins. The technical difficulty becomes also part of the artistic quality of the work.
The unit illustrates two facets of the personality of Esbin: his taste for aesthetics and extreme refinement on one hand, and on the other his need for rigor in the spirit of the constructivist. Michael Esbin, who works directly carving the stone, also uses techniques of mechanics of precision, monumental mason or even chemical toserve his artistic intentions. “Magicians Column” results from an association between the black marble of Belgium, the black granite of Sweden, the marble serpentine, the stainless steel, and aluminum stuck with a particular formula of adhesive that worked out in Basle.
His works is characterized by its visual elegance, the sensual use of materials and their colour.
March 1998 – Geneve