Derek Weisberg: Life and Death
Derek Weisberg specializes in the unreal, but at the same time, his art captures a very interesting aspect of life: the transformation between life and death. The majority of his clay and porcelain sculptures feature a unique, dream-like character. This character’s eyes are usually placed on the sides of its head, rather than the front, and Weisberg usually creates an indefinable mold to accompany his famous character.
Sometimes his characters have human traits. They could have on a baseball cap, or a beard, or heart-shaped sunglasses, sometimes they are even seen rowing a boat. This unforgettable character is at the heart of all of Weisberg’s creations. Any fan of sculpture artistry that has viewed Weisberg’s work, can immediately identify his pieces. His typical character has a martian-like quality. He uses it to depict psychological and emotional states as well. On Derekweisberg.com, the artist identifies his artistry’s mission. “I create works of art that are emotional and psychological self-portraits. Through my work I aim to make sense of my life, my experiences, and the times I live. I do not wish to represent like a photo, instead to achieve an innerness.”
His sculptures live by this creed. In one of his exhibits, entitled “Porcelain Promises,” Weisberg designs his character resolved in deep prayer with an unsatisfied face. The more I witness this depiction, the more I understand that this character has a troubled soul. I can seek to determine the character’s problem, or aura. It is eerie and fascinating at the same time. Weisberg sticks to one character in his most recent artwork, but he captures many different feelings and psychological states.
Derek Weisberg received a degree in ceramics from the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, California. His work has been captured in galleries throughout California since 2003. Another crucial feature of his work is his ability to capture death. According to Weisberg, he used this escape to deal with the loss of his mother. Sometimes he uses his traditional character, and gives it zombie-like qualities. Weisberg’s “Victoria Everlasting” exhibit showcases his traditional character in a state of ascension. The character is rapped in elegant robes, and her eyes are fixed on the sky. The character’s mouth is slightly open, as if to present a state where her soul is being taken from her mortal body. This particular piece is what makes Weisberg so unique and original. It took one look at “Victoria Everlasting” to discern the psychological and spiritual attributes of the character. In this sculpture, Weisberg seems to paint death in a pleasant way. In “Victoria Everlasting,” his character is weak physically and mentally. It is almost as if the character is craving death. You can easily see the character’s agony and hardship. This portrait was created in honor of Weisberg’s mother. In a recent interview with Village Savant, Weisberg opens up about his mother’s passing and the creation of “Victoria Everlasting.” He said that the passing of his mother was/is a major episode in his life. “I feel extremely fortunate to be able to make art, because with each piece of art I made or make, I feel like I learn a little bit more, I reconcile further, I understand better, I move one step closer to truth.”
You can see the belief that Weisberg holds in all of his sculptures. “Victoria Everlasting” suggests that death is painless, and in a sense, relieving. In this sculpture, the viewer does not witness pain or struggle. In Weisberg’sVillage Savant interview, he identifies how hard it was for him to lose his mother. She has become a tremendous source of inspiration for him, and his artwork will continue to bless her memory.
It is amazing how Weisberg uses this one character to form an endless portrayal of emotions and beliefs. In his early work (2003-2007), he presents different variations of different characters. For instance, he places eyes in their normal positions, and you can see an obvious attempt to make different characters. Weisberg has always molded the qualities of an afterlife with the characteristics that we know as man. In one portrait, Weisberg has a normal man glaring at the sky in disbelief. The man is wearing plain tennis shoes, jeans, and a t-shirt. The man seems to be at peace with a discovery he has made. On the shoulders of this normal man, Weisberg places another pair of hands reaching towards the sky. These hands are childlike, and they feature a grand feathery, wingspan. Weisberg is clearly depicting a certain view of the afterlife. His sculpture is breathtaking. The artist makes it obvious for viewers to form these opinions of his pieces (in the same manner that I have). Some of his portrait’s psychological feelings and beliefs are obvious; some are completely left up to the imagination.
Weisberg continues to portray the transformation between life and death in all of his work. He constantly questions how to identity this unique world. He asks himself questions about this transformation before he begins on every piece: “Is there such thing as a soul? Does her soul live on? How? As a spirit twinkling in the heavens? As a ghostly angel who waltz’s behind me? Does her soul ascend to join the larger divine flame, like in Jewish mysticism? I began wondering what a soul or spirit would look like. How would I sculpt a spirit or a soul in the cosmos?”
This line of questioning is at the heart of Derek Weisberg’s work. He seeks to capture the remarkable transformation between life and death, and his work will continue to touch the souls of any person who has lost someone dear in their life.
The original article was published by Visionary Artistry Mag: http://visionaryartistrymag.com/2011/09/derek-weisberg-life-and-death/