Jonathan Hertzel: When Sparks Fly
Exhibition of Bronze and Watercolors at the James A Michener Museum , Doylestown PA. 2015
Why do we sit and stare at a fire? Flames- white, yellow, orange, blue and green-shoot into the air crackling and spitting as sparks fly and embers fall to the ground. Molten yet ethereal, they flicker before us for a while before slowly dying into coal and ashes-a fire is a living thing with a beginning, and an end, and perhaps we are drawn, not only to its warmth, but also to its resemblance of our own temporal state.
In his work, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts trained sculptor, Jonathan Hertzel ( b.1953) explores the intersection of nature and spirit and their ultimate connection through the artistic process. Hertzel has said that his sculpture is inspired by an unfurling of elemental forces - air, water, earth, and fire-that coalesce into a fundamental expression of the human form. His sculptures are spirit embodied in molten metal, each piece, a “spark” of the larger life force.
Like all of Hertzel’s sculpture's Adam Splitting is in a state of transition, his form shifting as positive and negative spaces collide. He is a warrior figure who explodes into thousands of sparks, each containing the imprint of a new soul. Adam is the original spark and the impetus for the subsequent sparks in watercolor.
The sixteen watercolors on view here does reflect Hertzel's metal work in a serendipitous way. Loosely drawn with ink and watercolor, the forms float and solidify in a freeform expressionist manner, a pictorial narrative in which human like forms, emerge and disperse in the landscape. Viewed as a group with Adam Splitting in an intimate gallery setting, they create an environment for the artistic process to unfold before our eyes, synthesizing narratives and ideas across media. In an age obsessed with the digital devices, Hertzel's work returns us to the elements to the fundamentals of art and experience, and in the process, reconnect us with our humanity and soul.
Kirsten, M Jensen, Jerry and Margaret Lenfest chief curator.
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