UK artist Marcus Levine creates figurative and abstract images by driving common black and silver nails into an aluminum panel or wood boards. Nudes, portraits, eyes and abstracts are depicted as a combination of pointillism and sculpture.
Because the nails protrude form the surface, the play of light and shadow adds dimensionality to the images.
46 year old Marcus Levine was educated at Fulneck School for Boys and left with four A levels. He was accepted at Jacob Kramer Art College alongside Damien Hirst. Previous alums include David Hockney and both Hirst and Hockney have been an inspiration to Levine. Afterwards Levine went on to study Scientific and Technical Graphics, a four year Bachelor of Arts degree at Cornwall College of Art and design. During his third year Levine found placement at Harlic Television HTV Bristol as a TV designer and self taught himself the newly arrived Quantel Paintbox, a sophisticated graphics computer which was used to create the animated scenes in the Avatar motion picture.
Whilst still an art student he had considered creating abstracts from nails but the idea seemed too difficult. Now years later he attempted his first nail sculpture. At first it was going to be abstract but then last minute he changed his mind to figurative.
Levine explains that “the interplay between the rigid, angular nails and the soft curves of the human torso, would be more striking”.
Levine’s ability to capture the curvilinear nature of the human body with such an inflexible object is intensely represented. He creates figures which are beautifully muscular yet wonderfully delicate, and it is clear that the artist has an innate grasp of the human shape. Light also plays an integral role in Levine’s work, as “from morning sun to evening sun the shadows across the sculptures can appear as light as a pencil or as dark as a charcoal still life.”
His latest clout nail sculptures introduce the sense of touch to his work and allow visually impaired and sighted people to experience the undulation and curvature of the nails as they twist, raise and fall along the length of the aluminium panel which they are driven into.
Since completing his first “nail sculpture” in autumn of 2004, Levine has perfected his technique, pushing the boundaries with each new work and creating increasingly dynamic interpretations of an object notoriously difficult to depict. It was Picasso who once said “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” The many years in business should have ground Levine down, but the very act of giving everything up seems to have freed the tethered mind of the artist and he has returned to an age of experimentation and freedom.
Most of Levine’s recent painting is a direct result of experimenting and heavily influenced by such artists as Jackson Pollock, Levine says of his still life paintings. “I am constantly looking at ways to free myself. I have a tendency to try to paint a photo so by creating a technique that prevents me from doing that, I create something new and unique. I never thought I would paint still life but the type of paint I use and painting onto aluminium is very stimulating. I have to accept that the final result although controlled has a life of its own.”
images courtesy of the artist and Coax London