One of the not-so-guilty pleasures of covering the local art scene is watching an artist blossom. A case in point is Michael Hansel, a Newport sculptor who just keeps getting better and better.
His latest work, at Providence's Wheeler Gallery through Thursday, performs feats of sculptural magic. But Hansel's technical skill and knack for balancing strength and elegance are, if anything, even more impressive. That's especially true of the show's three large sculptures, which look like the armor-plated remains of a trio of ultra-delicate sea creatures.
BILL VAN SICLEN
Providence Journal 2/6/03
Mike Hansel uses Sculpture as a means of pointing people away from what they take for granted towards an oddly humorous world composed of vaguely familiar elements. They are re-invented associations made between careful observations and the half forgotten elements of memory.
“I attempt to distort traditional assumptions relating to function while also suggesting a conceptual relationship between life and industry. My primary method is to create industrial looking forms, which serve only aesthetic purposes. The contrasting relationship between hard and soft forms is the basic component of how I interpret things visually. Their interaction is, in one way or another, the overriding concept in all the objects that I have made. Each piece, I think, tells a slightly different story. Some suggest a tranquil association between two very different components. Others allude to machines that can manipulate organic things and sometimes biomorphic forms start to take on mechanical characteristics. All of them attempt to illustrate the sense of irony that seems to exist when forms are separated from their function. “