Welcome to the world of Reza Sedghi, a talented digital artist and sculptor born in 1993 in Tehran, Iran. Reza started his career working with animation and 3D printing, focusing on digital sculpting and 3D character creation. His journey in art has now led him to physical sculpting, where he skillfully combines traditional methods with modern technology.
Reza's sculptures, mainly made from stone with CNC technology and hand sculpting, are more than just artistic pieces. He also experiments with natural materials like fungi, adding a unique touch to his work. His art tells stories about the decline of human thought, the nature of humanity, and the important social issues we face today.
Through his art, Reza Sedghi invites us to think deeply about the world around us. His works encourage us to question and understand the complex experiences of human life. Join us as we explore the powerful messages in Reza's sculptures, reflecting on our choices and the fast-moving world we live in.
How did your journey in the animation and 3D printing industry influence your transition to sculpting?
I initially worked in the Animation and Video Games Industry, starting as a 3D Modeler and later learned Digital Sculpting. Later, I got a 3D Printing project for Collectibles. Witnessing the transformation of digital artwork into physical form was truly awe-inspiring for me, sparking a flood of ideas. Digital Sculpting, as a tool, grants me the freedom to explore any concept in various shapes. I can freely add, remove, form out, deform, and experiment without concerns about materials or challenges. If I decide to bring a creation to life, I then assess the technical issues involved.
Most of my personal artworks visually reflect a Classical style, stemming from my profound appreciation for the Idealism and Symbolism of that era. The meaning behind my work is heavily influenced by the Idealism of the Classical era, as well as the Mythological era, among others. I aim to showcase the stark contrast between the ideals of the past and our current state, spanning thousands of years. After creating a few Digital Personal Artworks, my friend Mohsen Zare, who specializes in CNC Milling, suggested that we bring these creations into the physical realm. That's how I ventured into Physical Sculpting.
What led you to combine CNC technology with hand sculpting, especially when working with stone?
The CNC milling brings almost 70% of the digital form, and the rest of the work should be done by hand, and it depends on each artwork. Sometimes it goes to finalizing and details and sometimes when a work has a lot of negative spaces the 4 axis CNC cannot do the work, so those areas will be done by hand. The CNC milling gives me the overall form of what I have sculpted digitally, and then the rest can be achieved by hand afterwards. And of course, polishing is also done by hand.
Can you describe one of your sculptures that utilizes natural ingredients like fungi, and the inspiration behind it?
"Vanitas: A Portrayal of Human Degeneration" began as a digital illustration, where I utilized mold as a symbol of degeneration overlaying Apollo, a Greek god representing the godlike persona of contemporary humans. The central idea is to depict how humanity has assumed a god-like image, like Apollo the god of light, prophecy, building skills, and owner of the bow and music. With our knowledge and metaphorical bowstring, symbolizing militancy, stretched to its limits, we expected to reach a prosperous and peaceful present. However, we find ourselves in a present marred by conflict and decay. Mold, symbolizing degeneration, insidiously spreads over Apollo's face, particularly his brain, representing human thought, serving as a testament to our diminishing dignity. Darkness has engulfed us, consuming the remnants of our once-great civilization.
As I worked on stone, I aimed to create molds on the surface, both as a technical challenge and to naturally evoke the shocking effect of actual mold rather than resorting to imitation. I encountered numerous challenges, errors, and failures along the way, as I believe it wasn't done before or if it was, I couldn't find any guidelines and pipeline for my project. Consequently, it became an experimental endeavor. However, sculpting with natural ingredients proved to be incredibly enjoyable. I awaited the tiny little molds to grow, dry them, and then move to the next molds, to finally create the shape that I wanted.
While I have experience in both digital and traditional sculpting, this approach was truly distinct. "Vanitas: A Portrayal of Human Degeneration" stands as the first sculpture in my ongoing art and thought project, "The State of Decay." This project primarily aims to critique the current state of the human condition, particularly focusing on moral aspects. Through this project, I strive to raise awareness and concern about our present circumstances as human beings. I firmly believe that morality has not evolved at the same pace as other facets of our civilization, and we continue to search for a universally accepted moral code.
Many of your works address the degeneration of human thought and pressing social issues. Is there a particular piece that you feel embodies this theme most vividly?
In addition to "Vanitas: A Portrayal of Human Degeneration", "Venus: A Distorted Symbol of Beauty and Love" presents Venus, the Goddess of Beauty and Love, in a distorted form. As I believe that we currently reside in a time where values have been redefined, causing them to lose their original meaning. Among these values, love and beauty stand atop. In the past, beauty was attributed to nature and the concept of Golden ratios. However, in today's world, beauty has become artificial, and achieving Golden ratios takes on various methods. If Venus represents the goddess of beauty, she also embodies the essence of love. Nevertheless, love, in our present era, has also undergone distortion, characterized by distance and dichotomy. Is Venus still a goddess and symbol of love and beauty? The answer to this question depends on the perspective of individuals living in the current time.
"The Veiled Virgin" primarily delves into the social issues prevalent in my home country, Iran. While studying the veiled virgins of ancient Rome and their fate, I drew parallels to the situation in Iran. In ancient Rome, the Vestals served as priestesses dedicated to Vesta, the goddess of home, family, and hearth. They safeguarded the sacred flame within the temple, and if the flame extinguished, the high priestess would accuse one of the virgins of unchastity, resulting in her being banished to an underground chamber for life as punishment. Throughout history, numerous artists have used the Veiled Virgin as inspiration for their masterpieces. Most of these works portray the Vestals veiled, symbolizing innocence and modesty.
Having lived in a society where veiling serves as a tool for misogyny and suppressing freedom, the subject of the Veiled Virgin immediately reminded me of my own surroundings. In this context, veiling becomes an excuse for power-hungry individuals to marginalize women, an integral part of society, and silence their voices. This coerced veil does not reflect free choice as it stifles the cry for freedom. It exemplifies suffocation and ignorance, contributing to the destruction of human life through the complicity of various forces.
Your artist statement references the loss of original meaning in values and traditions. How do you capture this theme in your sculptures?
I believe that the idealism present in the mythic, classical, and Renaissance eras sparked a sense of optimism in humans, envisioning a brighter future for themselves. While I do not reject modernism and postmodernism entirely, it is important to critically examine certain aspects, particularly in relation to morality for the modern human, as cautioned by late modern philosophers. The insidious naivety of modernity and Radical relativism of postmodernism only serve to further erode our moral compass and sense of purpose. Their harmful influence exacerbates the very dilemmas that afflict us. By rejecting a universal moral code, we become vulnerable to the whims of those in power, who can exploit their authority to impose their own moral values on others, leading to oppression and injustice.
One may question why someone from Iran would utilize Greek and Roman gods and mythologies, deliberately subverting them. I believe that we all inhabit a Western-centric world. Philosophy, as we know it, originates from the West. Modern science, modernism, economic systems, politics, nation-states, and more are all Western ideas. Even when we consider Eastern philosophies, we often try to understand them through the lens of "philosophy" which comes from the West. Therefore, using Persian mythology, for example, cannot be universally understood because our ideas have not evolved to become universal. My intention is to employ universally recognized symbols, using various marble materials to capture their surface beauty, while also intentionally damaging certain parts to provoke concern and reflection.
How does ancient mythology influence your perspective on the modern world, especially in your artwork?
My perspective of the modern world is greatly influenced by mythology, which in turn informs my artwork. Mythology offers valuable insights into how people used to live, think, express emotions, and establish their values. Most importantly, mythology serves as a warning. It reminds us that while we aspire to soar with the wings of knowledge, our ambitions can lead to a tragic descent. Similar to Icarus, our pursuit may propel us too close to the sun, and we risk being consumed by the flames of hubris. Through the lens of mythology, I find a profound connection to timeless themes and universal human experiences that transcend cultural boundaries. The myths of ancient civilizations, such as the Greeks and Romans, present a rich tapestry of narratives that resonate with contemporary society.
Mythology serves as a powerful tool for exploring and commenting on the complexities of the modern world. It allows me to delve into fundamental aspects of human existence, including morality and the human condition.
Furthermore, mythology provides a framework for examining the evolution of values and traditions. As I observe the modern world, I witness a gradual erosion of the original meaning and significance attached to certain cultural values. By referencing mythology, I aim to capture this theme and express concerns about losing touch with our roots and the core principles that once guided us. However, I want to clarify that I am not advocating for conservatism, as I believe that some traditions and cultural values have perpetuated injustice throughout history.
In my sculptures, I strive to strike a balance between showcasing the beauty and allure of the surface and deliberately damaging certain parts. This intentional damage represents the fragility of values and traditions in the face of modernity. By juxtaposing familiar and universally known icons with these disruptions, I aim to create a visual contrast that prompts viewers to reflect on the loss of original meaning in the values and traditions of our society.
Ultimately, mythology provides me with a rich source of symbolism and allegory to explore contemporary issues and challenge the status quo. It allows me to bridge the past and the present, fostering a dialogue between different eras and cultures. Through my artwork, I aspire to ignite conversations, provoke critical thinking, and inspire a deeper understanding of the complexities of our modern world.
As someone who observes and critiques the decline of humanity's core values, what message or insight do you hope viewers take away from your work?
My ultimate goal is to provoke thoughtful reflection and inspire viewers to reconsider their relationship with these values in the modern world. I aim to convey a message that challenges complacency and prompts a reevaluation of our individual and collective responsibilities.
Through my artwork, I hope to shed light on the potential erosion of our sense of morality and purpose. I want viewers to question the consequences of abandoning a universal moral code and the vulnerability it creates, as those in power can manipulate and impose their own values upon others, leading to oppression and injustice.
By utilizing symbolism and deliberate disruptions in my sculptures, I aim to convey the fragile nature of our values and traditions. I want viewers to recognize the importance of preserving and nurturing these core principles, which have the potential to guide us towards a brighter future.
Furthermore, I hope my work sparks conversations about the significance of ethics and Morality and its relevance in understanding and navigating the complexities of the modern world. I want viewers to appreciate the timeless themes of Mythology and universal human experiences embedded within these myths and recognize their capacity to offer insights into contemporary society.
Through my sculptures, I sound the alarm and raise concerns about our current situation as human beings. I believe that morality has not evolved as rapidly as other aspects of our civilization, and we are still searching for a universal moral code to guide and save humanity. The flame of hope is diminishing, and unless we take action, it will mark the beginning of humanity's decline. We are weighed down by our flaws, and it is crucial that we confront and address them.
Ultimately, I aspire for my artwork to serve as a catalyst for introspection and dialogue. I hope viewers walk away from my work with a heightened awareness of the challenges we face in preserving our core values and a renewed commitment to actively cultivate and protect them. My artwork aims to shed light on the decay of our moral fabric and provoke reflection on the state of humanity. I challenge viewers to consider our collective responsibility in preserving core values, rekindling hope, and striving for a better world.