With an unlimited imagination à la Hieronymus Bosch, Dr Gindi gets her nourishment from the eternal question of what holds the world together at its core and how we humans might find our place in such a world. Dr Gindi is not leading us into a Bosch-esque purgatory though, she offers perspectives and insights through her audacious inquiry into the human condition. Who are we? Where are we going? And how to grasp the infinite with all its potentialities?
Dr Gindi is a critically acclaimed sculptor who is known for her enigmatic artistic idiom. She has an atypical double education – as medical doctor and as a sculptor. Practicing medicine prior to turning to art, she experienced the depths of human abysses and decay first hand, embracing humanity in the profound infinity it entails. These aspects are portrayed for you if you want to experience existence from a new and erudite perspective: just delve in and engage with her gripping sculptures – you may find some answers too.
Dr. Gindi, you are one of those rare artists who take a comprehensive interest in the whole of existence and the true values of human life. Many of the protagonists captured in your sculptures seem to resent the finite limits on their potential, yet you motivate them to find ways to pass beyond the boundaries set on human experience. Could you let us know why you are stressing the purposeful efforts of us mortals to strive for infinity and to find our place in life?
The experiences exhibited with my sculptures reveal the pitfalls and false turns that are dangers along the road of life. They are meant to encourage the observer to find their own way to contentment. My work is indeed permeated by the big questions along that journey including self-doubt, moral dilemmas, and the nature of one’s future. Take my recent sculpture Fear is Hunting You – a nameless one is shown in chains, stirred by a piercing fury. Fear is given a face. Appallingly, there is no need for unbearable screams. We can only guess that his chained corpse – like in Hieronymus Bosch’s famous paintings – is fed by an even ghastlier fear – his unborn dawn. In “The Garden of Earthly Delights”, Bosch presented a world where fear, desire and death brings total obliteration. Similar to that great Dutch painter, I want to show the fractured reality of humanness by illustrating inner discontents – in all its conceivable facets and intensities. I am trying to portray possible states of being and the quixotic enmeshment that sometimes let my protagonists fulminate or silently implode, thus detaching them from the possible reclamation of infinity. Whilst exploring the blind spots and open wounds of human nature – and here I might differ from Bosch – I endeavor to let observers dive into the hypotheticals of the human condition and I lead them towards imaginative realms of infinite felicity. I recognize that our souls pass through an infinity of space, I know the amplitude of the human search.
Philosophical inquiry seems to be key to your artistic approach and although you have an inviolable prism through which you filter the human soul you are very much a speculative sculptor aren’t you? What exactly do you mean by the soul, as you seem to accept the existence of that incorporeal essence of being? How does the soul interact with our physical incarnation, our body?
Let me answer your question by referring to my sculpture Flying into Life: Trapped in human form, an aligned zest descends back to earth. A ray stemming from the eclipse. A soul whose current is glowing, illuminated by atmospheric light. You see, I refer to the soul here as an immaterial substance which is an essential part of us. I am not referring though to the dualism of body and mind – or, in Plato’s vocabulary, the soul – which dominated the debate since René Descartes. Already earlier and similar to Descartes, Hieronymus Bosch described in his painting the ‘Ascent of the Blessed’ the separation of body and soul, where the blessed ones ascend though a large tunnel into the heavenly beyond. However, the separation seemingly only occurs in the moment of death – body and soul are united earlier on. In my imagination body and soul always work together as one. We could reach infinity prior to death if we accept the existence of the soul in its simultaneity with the body. All infinity shall be in the moment – we don’t have to wait for the afterlife to reach fulfillment. The human pursuit is to inhabit the time-scale of our existence and to augment the moment with infinity. The search to understand what constitutes human nature in its inherent state of transition might lighten the matrix of life and allow us to wink at the intricacy of existence. We are the synthesis of the temporal and the infinite. And we can fly into life, now and always, with fluidity and verve.
Let’s stay a moment with Hieronymus Bosch who also felt that our position in the hereafter is a continuation of our situation on earth. Do you agree, if we accept that we live on infinitely, that the most particular and personal in our character is preserved after our physical death? Adding to my question I shall assume that infinity in your search for the true core of our being is probably something that is imagined and believed in, rather than just bumped into. That is perhaps something that needs to be brought into our conversation. And, what are your thoughts about the divine dimension of the infinite?
I share your interest in this question and here is my brief answer: I am not agnostic vis-à-vis religion. I am a believer, convinced that there is a sense of being wherever we are and come from. Etymology and my own interpretation see religion as originating from religare (Latin for ‘to connect’), a bond between humans and something bigger. We all might need such a bond consciously or unconsciously – a dependable linchpin. And I am advocating the bearable lightness of being. A world where everything is fluid as we oscillate between being and not being. And ultimately human. In my sculptural practice I deal with the reality beyond the world of appearances as place of eternal invariance, I review the unknown spaces of origin and destiny. Like in my work Sancta’s Broken Halo where I show a young woman wearing an injured nimbus of light. She might have experienced a rift in her life but now she looks into the future from the vantage point of a soul who is radiating contrapuntal experience. Hieronymus Bosch thought that the world might soon be taken over by humans that seek only to please themselves whilst falling back into superficiality, without asking and experiencing what holds the world together in its inmost folds. But for me, our halos are never really broken.
On a related note, as you were originally educated as medical doctor, you certainly had to experience suffering and death in its various forms. What were some significant insights you have had about death during your medical practice and how does it translate into your today’s artistic practice? Can you talk about how your interest in comprehending and embracing death has changed as you started to work as sculptor? Finally, how can sculpture appraise our conversations around suffering and decay, and how infinity informs it?
I am greatly influenced by my former vocation as medical doctor. My work represents the suffering of us humans, they are the graveyards of our miserable fate. Inevitably, the beautiful colors that had characterized our lucent bodies are replaced with the pain of mortality. Indeed, my sculptures allude to pain and death as my education as medical doctor had familiarized me with the humans thrown into exanimate obscurity. My sculptures may alleviate the suffering of humanity, thus serving as medium to ultimately taste the infinity of our existence. Seemingly flickering and changing before our eyes, they act as the epitome of self-actualization, they are set in a state of levitation, partly stopped in their movements or challenged by my own treatment of embodiment and perspective. In The Last Second, for instances, I present a genderless person at the last movements of life. Beclouding and becoming coincides. For sure, like everybody else, I experienced the distress of an often-hostile fate – the death of relatives and friends, and the idea of my own death. I am translating that experience into my sculptures. And I believe that infinity is the way out carrying us beyond the cage of insularity.
Well, I am observing that angst and dismay are strangely capable of returning the protagonists in your sculptures to reality. Reality might even be something to which they are returned at considerable cost. This agonizing is a sort of annihilation that brings release as all sensations are poured into it. How to traverse the abysses, that bottomless pits, and cross the bridge to infinity? How does your attentiveness to our every day’s affliction constitute a universe on its own?
When imagination is at the core of everyday existence, the seemingly impossible can be overcome. That’s the message I would like to convey. I don’t mean here a simplistic approach of selection and survival of the fittest – mankind surely does not represent an evolution toward a better or higher level at the expense of others, as progress is often misunderstood. Such progress is merely a modern idea, which is for me, an oddity. I rather believe that we humans need to dream, we need to inspire ourselves and others. On a more fundamental level, we choose what we become and therefore emanate our self. There will be hindrances and painful annoyances on that way, but those might be necessary. Against this backdrop of transition from fracture to fulfilment, my artwork shall always be intention-dependent, like in Terrified! where the essence of the depicted character is filled with hollowed out mud, in a manner analogous to Bosch’s delusions. He is hidden in petrified terror, daunted by the glow that buries his underground caves. To fully appreciate this and my other sculptures one must have experienced the taste of failure, a reckoning with fear, or a dawning realization that life could be fundamentally terrifying for many. Experiencing why there is something rather than nothing and what our own place in it all is – you might call it a universe of our own. Only then we can cross the bridges to infinity.
Thank you! I have now a better understanding of your creative approach as you integrate and subjugate the obvious interrogations of our times into the larger quest of human aspiration. Last question: As a speculative sculptor, how would you summarize the trajectory of your practice?
It is the continuum of life and its heightening that captivates me. It would require a certain sortilege to tempt me otherwise. For a fact, I feel the pulse of being on all levels of manifestation, as it is something that humanity sorely needs. My gaze floats. And I model the infinity of our existence.
All images with courtesy of Dr Gindi