Sculptural artist Hayden Phoenix was born in New Zealand but is arguably a citizen of the world. His creative roots originate in photography where the artists self-proclaimed “love affair with light and capturing images” began at twelve-years-old after a serendipitous encounter with a discarded Olympus film camera on Stanmore Bay beach. After studying photography formally in Auckland, Phoenix moved to Tokyo to investigate his curiosities in that genre further. The artists innate sense of adventure, knack for storytelling and enamour with the enigmatic dynamic between practitioner and subject thrust him into a career as a sought-after photographer taking him to places like London, Italy, Corsica, Iceland, Cypress, New York, New Zealand and Ratonga.
Phoenix’s sensibilities regarding how he perceives rather than what he perceives teamed with his view that the camera is just the vehicle for capturing the mechanics of those perceptions ensures his art, whether image or object, expresses the intangible purity of a moment.
When asked about the inspiration for his cast concrete sculptures, the artist states, “My love of concrete began when I was living in Harajuku, Tokyo back in 1997. It was at this time that I also became interested in brutalist Architecture. Many years later, I was down in Takamatsu City shooting a wedding and I read about a group of islands in the Seto sea that were known for their contemporary art museums.
When I saw a photo of the Benesse Art Museum on Naoshima Island I immediately scraped my tongue off the floor and booked my ferry ticket. The southern part of the Island is home to a vast amount of outdoor sculptures, architectural projects and artworks from prominent Japanese and international artists. Many of which utilise concrete as the main building material.
In 2017 I started to experiment with my own ideas by casting thin concrete plates with geometric patterns that were initially intended to be hung on walls. The whole process of making the form, setting the concrete and waiting to pull the form away is so magical to me. I mix and pour all concrete batches by hand and each object has its own unique characteristics.”
Visually commanding, Phoenix’s sculptures are bizarrely organic despite their convoluted fabrication. It is both unsettling and grounding at once, the quintessential paradox that true artwork elicits – and they are beautiful to boot, which only adds to their inherent appeal. As the bridge between his artwork’s contradictions, Hayden explains, “As a firm believer in the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi (the appreciation of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”) I’m always eager to see what ‘imperfections’ have set into the objects as I remove them from the forms. I believe that like all things in the natural world, it’s the differences, and the appreciation of those differences that makes a thing unique, and inherently beautiful.”
Hayden Phoenix is an experienced artist with a personal narrative and adept sensitivities with the nuances of culture having worked internationally for many years. His current work is the launchpad for his aspirations to continue experimenting with design and colour as means to translate his story and to incorporate different metals and woods into their construction. Phoenix debuts at the gallery as a represented minimalist sculptor.