Eric Boyer’s figures of male and female torsos, often intertwined, have the sensuous movement of Rodin and the muscular physicality of Michelangelo. And while his perfectly proportioned sculptures, which he coaxes out of sheets of stiff steel-wire mesh, most immediately call to mind the classical Greco-Roman sculptures of 2,000 years ago, they also have the grid-like appearance of a computer drawing come to three-dimensional life. That’s because Boyer gets his creative impetus from the material itself. The fabric-like drape of the steel-wire mesh is an endless source of fascination for him, and his intimate awareness of its quirks and qualities allows him to manipulate it into forms and figures that are astonishing in their sheer beauty.
In 1985, after having worked for five years in a metalworking shop, where he’d learned to forge, weld, and fabricate decorative iron railings and furniture, he began to experiment, artistically, with the leftover scraps of the Number 8 mesh from fireplace screens that had been discarded during the assembly process. “This material moves quite readily in the hand, although possessing its own idiosyncrasies,” explains Boyer. “It’s a malleable metal and it molds like clay, but it’s actually a form of cloth, with a finite amount of give and take.”
And an infinite amount of possibilities. “Having always been attracted to the human form,” recalls Boyer, “and for other reasons both ethereal and practical, I began to sculpt figures.” Gorgeous figures. But however gorgeous they are, they are also rooted in Boyer’s scientific interest in human anatomy and physiology. So as perfect as his bodies are, they are not unattainably perfect. “I create to share the beauty of the figure and the emotional vocabulary it speaks,” says Boyer. “Even without the face, the ‘window to the soul,’ the body speaks volumes.”
Indeed, these “neoclassical” truncated figures convey their story without the facial expression we are most accustomed to reading. Part of what we read into them comes from our familiarity with the sculptures of Hellenistic Rome and Ancient Greece, and later on through Renaissance masters like Michelangelo and Da Vinci, and later still, through Rodin and Camille Claudel. Boyer takes this classicism and beauty one step further: Boyer’s figures are transparent, and this ability to look through them brings out entirely different reactions and emotions. Unlike the contemplation of stone figures or bronze statues, these see-through studies of the human body allow the viewer to not only move through them but move with them.
That Boyer achieves all this from memory is even more impressive. “My art most commonly comes from an inner vision,” says Boyer. “I don’t work from models, although I have done extensive life drawing and portraits. Rather, I create from an ever-changing visual and tactile memory bank that leaves me room for exaggeration and expression, as the piece requires.”
And not all his works are figures. His abstract pieces, too, which conjure up jellyfish, plumes of fire and smoke, and flowers, are equally beautiful. “Both the figures and the free-form pieces live in the same fantasy landscape,” says Boyer. “The abstracts inform the figurative work by giving me an opportunity to see the material in a new way.
“My hope,” adds Boyer, “is that the beauty of the physical body will strike the viewer of my work and moved by its expressive power, while appreciating the innovative and unique visual characteristics of my chosen material of wire mesh.”