Executed in 2001, Untitled is an important precursor to Fischer’s celebrated tripartite What if the Phone Rings, in which three similarly conceived female figures of varied poses parallel the mythological tableau of the Three Graces. In the present work, Fischer inaugurates his consciously coarse and awkward rendering of the female form to challenge the idealized naturalism of the classical Venus types that originated the genre. Excavating a human form by crudely carving into a Styrofoam block, Fischer’s prototypes are sent to a foundry to begin their transition into soft wax; a material that will achieve its most lustrous sheen when it has been ignited and melted once more. As a fragile, inverse parody of the lost-wax casting process used to create bronze nudes since ancient times, Untitled is roughly hewn with feet morphing into block-like pedestals that give honest indication of Fischer’s process and the medium’s inherent ephemerality.
Igniting a new model each time it is exhibited, the ultimate form that Untitled takes is governed by the flame’s consuming impact on the wax at that point in time. As minute variances in atmospheric conditions will influence the base physical interactions of materials, Untitled provides a unique record of an eternal concept, articulated through interminably changeable forms. The candle has been a long held symbol of the transience of life within the still-life vanitas tradition and here Fischer gives both corporeal form and experiential presence to this motif. The immortal status of a work of art is subversively drawn into the realm of fleeting human mortality, destabilizing the traditional function of the memento mori and privileging the concept of a lived present. Submitted to the primal element of fire – an intangible yet consummately powerful concentration of energy– the solidity of the sculptural medium is challenged by the most profound of physical process, unleashing new metaphysical capacities for the medium as its ability to communicate an image is perpetually disrupted. The heated wax alters in form, gradually softening until its viscosity thins to the density of pure fluid. Trickling down under the pull of gravity, inch by inch, the formal structure of the figure disintegrates and simultaneously re-forms in linear drips of its own medium and piled forms of abstract splendor.
The process mimics the primordial transition of magma, the earth’s volatile core substance, as it erupts, flows and cools to form the very structure of the world we inhabit. The myth of creation is itself embodied thematically through the evocation of the naked Eve archetype, the biblical mother of humanity depicted as a vulnerable metaphor for the folly of humanity. Yet propped up with the stiff posture of a commercial mannequin, Fischer looks away from art’s religious paradigms and classical monuments. Instead he constructs a surreally mechanized development of Tom Wesselmann’s Great American Nudes, plucked from the realm of fantasy and ushered into a bluntly desexualized yet distinctly tangible form. Morphing in an organic manner as though alive, yet ultimately moving towards its own destruction, Untitled debunks the Pygmalion myth and the male artist’s role as the divine creator that shapes the existence of his female subject. Clumsily crafted, with an amputated leg that rests haphazardly on blocks, Fischer interrogates the precarious nature of the female nude as an icon of art and presents it simply as superficial substance, malleable to the will of time.
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