When one thinks of this object, operated in its originally intended, utilitarian manner, a picture begins to form in the minds eye. A strong-armed individual sweating by the light of a coal lit stove in a soot-encrusted room, swinging a weighty metal tool and connecting with this equally weighty surface. The reverberation of sound, echoes without falter, a rhythmic, “think, think, think…” that only metal on metal can produce, consumes this dark hovel. This scenario, or something similar, could be what you visualize when you hear, anvil (that, or the age-old anvil plight of Looney Tunes’ Wile E. Coyote)? As an object (or a prompt in this case), “anvil” has the capacity to stir associative thinking. In Matthias Merkel Hess’s latest installment, “Anvils” at Acme Gallery Los Angeles, original intended uses of this object are dismissed. In turn, a sculptor’s beautifications of these seemingly incandescent workers tools, begins.
Industrial strength, metal saw horses and planks of wood act as pedestals, echoing a workshop of sorts. Arranged accordingly are various types of Merkel Hess’s Anvils: “Farmer’s Anvil.” “Stonemaker’s Anvil, “Double Horn Anvil.” Each of these varieties is rendered from stoneware with a painterly finish. The interaction of hues and illustrious glaze reflects a metallurgic sensibility. “Colonial Anvil, 2013,” is a one horned replica of a more traditionally shaped anvil. This luminosity of the surface shimmers with a deep blue to dusky purple gradient- refracting light from its textured curves. Becoming lost in the colors and constructs of these pieces is quite easy, in fact. The beauty is met with a sense of humor too, considering the fabrication.
Striking an anvil is necessary to the traditional metal worker’s process. This method of energy transferal beats an otherwise unmovable object into malleable submission. Merkel Hess takes an unbreakable subject matter and transcribes it into a delicate state. The anvils once unwavering strength is immortalized, ironically, through this new precious material construction.
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-Contributed by Bianca Guillen