A return to our primordial roots with Stanislaw Trzebinski

“In spite of our total reliance on the natural world, we have become almost blind to it,” says the artist.

Stanislaw Trzebinski is a sculptural artist based in Woodstock, Cape Town. Having spent most of his formative years in Kenya and Nairobi, Trzebinski found his artistic niche at the Bronze Age Art Foundry and relocated to South Africa in 2012. He has made a name for himself as a conceptual sculptor whose interest lies in the human connection (or rather lack thereof) with the natural world.

“I would like my work to plant seeds of curiosity and imagination that intrigue people enough to go out and take a closer look at our roots,” says Trzebinski.

Through wax modelling and bronze casting, Trzebinski explores our overarching dissociation with nature, that modern sensibilities and advances in technology remove us from where our primeval origins lie in nature. He creates human-like figures that seem corrupted by years of underwater decay, as if a pristine human model had been dropped into the Aegean Sea centuries ago – but in reality Trzebinski creates this deterioration effect deliberately. The corroded look of the artworks is a defining attribute, inviting the viewer to consider our primordial beginnings and how far we have drifted from it.

"The coral aspect of it is a comment on how all life came from the sea. We crawled out of the ocean billions of years ago, whatever animals we were back then, and evolved into the people that we are today. In a way, my work is getting people to take a closer look at the the interconnectedness of things,” says the artist, “Mythological figures were used to make sense of nature in a way that personified it, something which has been lost in all but primitive cultures today. In a way I am doing the reverse by ‘naturefying’ the human form.”

Trzebinski describes the thought-intensive process of making one such figure. The pose of the body must be imagined and maintained clearly from start to finish, as a metal frame acts as the skeleton on which Trzebinski builds a waxen body. The anatomy of the sculpture is formed first, before Trzebinski starts modeling the details of the extremities and then (“the fun part,” as he calls it) shaping the decay and disintegration.

The end result resembles a human that has been stripped bare of skin, disabused of his or her outer affectations, and whose flesh is now mingled with coral growths and deformations as observed in the marine world. In this age of indoor entertainment and living life almost entirely digitally, Trebinski’s work serves as an authentic and haunting reminder that we are of the Earth.