Erwin Fabian | Raising the bar

The phrase “leading Australian artist” is one we have all read before, thrown around sometimes a bit too generously in the art world. However, when it comes to Erwin Fabian the title could not be more on point.

Turning 100 in November this year Fabian is thoroughly involved in his practice, physically bending rusted remnants of steel into other worldly sculptures. Working predominantly with collected scrap metal, his steel sculptures are no easy challenge. It can only be a time-honoured skill that enables Fabian to transform previously unrelated odd, scrap metal parts into fluid sculptural forms, drawing the spectator’s eye into their maze of curves and pattern.

Represented by Robin Gibson Gallery, Fabian celebrated his 100th year with a feature exhibition recent sculpture – not a survey of his life’s work rather a snapshot of his current practice. Hardly fazed by this milestone, he has no plans to slow down enough for a retrospect of his work at this point.

Whilst this exhibition has finished, his works are still available to be viewed at the gallery as part of the current 27th Annual Group Sculpture Show. It is a significant opportunity to be able to study works of an artist who has been practising for over half a century. His works maintain a great presence both figuratively and literally – some exceeding two metres dominating the gallery space.

In commemoration of Fabian’s long standing practice, Professor Sasha Grishin AM, FAHA, outlined the unique nature of his works, stating, “His sculptural creations do belong to the grand tradition of humanist sculpture. In other words, they interact with us on a human and emotive level: we come to believe in their existence not only as aesthetic objects, but as metaphors for the human spirit.”

However one interprets Fabian’s works, what is striking his innate ability to create works that balance strength and poise from the previously chaotic, unrelated industrial materials. Mastering formal struggles of mass and volume, surface and texture, and space, the result is a practice underlined by a matured and emotional response to the materials. For emerging and established sculptors, his works speak of a practice that has grown, changed and refined over time.

This impressive milestone has not gone unnoticed in the art industry, with art critic John McDonald writing of Fabian’s success and recognised stature, commenting “He is one of the unsung legends of modern Australian art, and there seems to be no diminution in his powers whatsoever.”

To see for yourself the striking range and quality of Fabian’s sculptures, you can visit Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney. Artist Profile wishes Erwin Fabian a happy and promising 100th birthday year.

27th Annual Group Sculpture Show
Robin Gibson Gallery
30 May – 24 June

Courtesy the artist and Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney.

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