Translation Of Pointillists’ Expressions Into Sculpture – Complete project material


Sculpture has evolved from conventional materials like clay (terra-cotta), stone and
concrete, especially amongst the realists of the twentieth century. This reality had largely
influenced even the painting world as it affects the smoothness and glossiness of painting to
the level of replacing bold strokes as can be seen in the works of Van Gough etal. It thus
became imperative for visual artists, particularly painters and sculptors to take a leap in their
respective areas. In view of this development, a few number of sculptors like Jennifer
Maestre, Herb Williams, Chris Weed, Olu Amoda etc, have tried producing sculptures either
in the round or in relief though, in a different way. Based on the above assertion, the urge for
creative possibilities of pointillised form of sculpture, especially in relief format using
primarily steel nails was conceived and through practical studio experiences, translating
pointillism from painting to sculpture, though not without setbacks, the persistence and
courage employed made it possible for the success of the research. The experiment involved
two methods:
i. The empirical analysis which entails a conceptualization of perceived forms that
laid the basis from which all studio projects benefited. This process involved a
massive drill of mental display of ideas. The researcher employed an assemblage
of ideas which served as impetus for the researcher’s experiences.
ii. Ten indoor sculptures were created out of which one larger size was used as the
main project for the research. The findings display an array of visual impacts
created by the inclusion of physically perceived forms.
Title page – – – – – – – – – i
Declaration – – – – – – – – – ii
Certification – – – – – – – – – iii
Acknowledgement – – – – – – – – iv
Abstract – – – – – – – – – – v
Table of contents – – – – – – – – vi
List of figures – – – – – – – – – x
List of plates – – – – – – – – – ix
Chapter 1
1.0 Introduction – – – – – – – – 1
1.1 Background of the study – – – – – – – 3
1.2 Statement of the Problem – – – – – – 6
1.3 Objectives of the Study – – – – – – 7
1.4 Justification of the Study – – – – – – 7
1.5 Significance of the Study – – – – – – 7
1.6 Scope and Delimitation of the Study – – – – – 8
1.7 Organization of the Work. – – – – – – 8
Chapter 2
2.0 Review of related literature and works – – – – 9
2.0.1 Georges Seurat – – – – – – – 10
2.0.2 Jennifer Maestre – – – – – – – 11
2.0.3 Herb Williams – – – – – – – 12
2.1 Review of Related Works. – – – – – – 13
2.1.1 ‘A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte’ – – 14
2.1.2 ‘Queen of the Night’ 2003 – – – – – – 15
2.1.3 ‘Thistle’ 2008. – – – – – – – – 16
2.1.4 ‘Two Horses’ 1994 – – – – – – – 17
2.1.5 ‘Red Head’ 2008 – – – – – – – 19
2.1.6 ‘White Noise’ 2008 – – – – – – – 20
2.1.7 ‘Seethe’ 2008 – – – – – – – – 21
2.1.8 ‘Minkisi’ 2003 – – – – – – – 22
Chapter 3
3.0 Research Procedures – – – – – – – 25
3.0.1 Sources of Research Materials – – – – – – 25
3.0.2 Sketches from Reference Materials. – – – – – 25
3.0.3 Pilot Study – – – – – – – – 33
3.0.4 Procedure – – – – – – – – 34
3.1 Data through Empirical Study – – – – – 44
Chapter 4
4.0 Introduction – – – – – – – – 45
4.1 Preliminary Studies – – – – – – – 45
4.2 Stage One – – – – – – – – 46
4.2.1 ‘Sweet Burden’ 124x94cm – – – – – – 46
4.2.2 The Arrival – – – – – – – – 47
4.3 Stage Two – – – – – – – – 48
4.3.1 ‘The Trumpeters’ 60x60cm – – – – – – 49
4.3.2 ‘No Harm in Trial’ 39x93cm – – – – – – 50
4.4 Stage Three – – – – – – – – 51
4.4.1 The Grand Return’ 123x246cm – – – – – 51
4.4.2 ‘Galloping Horse’ (portrait) – – – – – – 53
4.4.4 ’The Damsel’ – – – – – – – – 54
4.4.5 ’The Body Guard’ – – – – – – – 55
4.4.6 ’Horn Blower’ – – – – – – – – 56
Chapter 5
5.0 Summary – – – – – – – – 59
5.1 Conclusion – – – – – – – – 60
References – – – – – – – – 62




Pointillism as a painting technique that started in the nineteenth century by Georges
Seurat was seen as an exclusive preserve of painting. The need for this technique, according
to Wales (2005), arose, primarily from its two-dimensional nature and the curiosity of artists
of the era to deviate from the conventional methods of executing art works, especially in
painting with the aid of a brush or other materials like charcoal, pastel and pencil. These
materials of expression were in the earlier part of the nineteenth century used as instruments
of change in the art world that painters (impressionists) explored exhaustively. What started
as a minor move pivoted by a quartet of skilled and talented painters (George Seurat, Paul
Cezanne, Vincent Van Gogh and Gauguin) became more established and recognized in the
later part of the century, (De la Croix and Tansey 1970). These instruments nurtured the
transformation that brought about a massive change in the world of art by also bringing out
the best in the artists concerned.
The manner things improve and keep changing shows that change in itself is dynamic.
Change occurs in almost all facets of creation, be it human activities, climate or other natural
causes. Art, in this context being one of the major human manipulative activities enjoys no
exception. According to Moore (1968):
You may ask why art cannot continue repeating itself, why there are
always artists with new ways of seeing and doing? It is partly
because a certain vein comes to be exhausted. What once was fresh
and stimulating and full of meaning in the hands of strong and
original artists becomes stale and repetitious in the hands of later
imitators. Also, the attitudes and interests of society as a whole shift
and change and it is the artists and scientists who are often the first to
provide intimations of this change.
Translation, according to ‘Oxford Dictionary of Current English’ means: changing
something to another but still maintaining its originality. It could also be understood in this
context as a change in shape and form with regards to materials of expression and mode of
execution. In other words, translation is a gradual modification from shape through
technique, method, materials of expression to form. It is of immense importance that this
change is made simpler in the most visual sense. According to Goldwater in Stribling (1975)
‘it is of assumption that as the further one goes back-historically, psychologically or
aesthetically, the simpler things become and because they are more profound, more important
and more valuable’. He further states that the nature of this simplicity varies with the nature
of the seeker.
In view of the above assertion, several artists started springing up in different parts of
the world especially in Europe where serious professional attention was given to art
endeavours. The influence of Renaissance in art in Europe around 15th century, which
undoubtedly, opened the doors of discoveries for artists to go into professionalizing this
endeavour and, also bringing to bear the fruits of the pioneers of art of the era. Every artist or
group of artists around this period wanted to carve out a niche for himself or themselves. This
led to establishment of art movements and styles as healthy discoveries spiced up this
profession making it a worthwhile venture. This continued until the arrival of an era where
exhibition was taken from single indoor spaces to the visual attention of the public around
19th century. It was at this point that a dotted way of painting started hunching through the
major pioneer, a French artist, named Georges Seurat, after witnessing an exhibition in Paris
in 1883, (Kleiner & Mamiya, 2005).
The technique of painting with either brush strokes or dots of primary colors to generate
secondary results as an effect, which emanated from post-impressionism in the later part of
19th century was seen exclusively as painting without. It was later “pointillism” and thus
became one of the very celebrated developments in the field of painting.
1.1 Background of the study
The remarkable contributions of masters like Pablo Picasso, Gianluca Bernini,
Donatello, and Michelangelo in their respective art endeavours brought about the desired
change (change in styles, approach and even i the use of materials) which is inevitable in any
human activity. This change served as an eye opener that attracted a massive followership
which served as springboard for the emergence of several art movements. This development
led to a wide range of dynamic attractions from various visual artists resulting in inventions,
discoveries, innovations and developments. The explorations in the areas of painting and
sculpture have made it possible for the discipline of art to be of a vast embodiment like other
disciplines of human academic knowledge. These contributions, inventions, discoveries and
innovations of these masters have opened up challenging grounds for the younger generations
to carry on from where their predecessors have stopped.
These events made the European artists to venture into various aspects of art which
later resulted in the springing up of several art styles and movements. This was achieved
through fastidious attempts without any reservations for the use of the available materials
they could lay their hands on. After post-impressionism, in the later part of 19th century,
artists in France started the movement in painting that later came to be known and called
Developmental stages in innovations and style and techniques have for several decades,
been enjoying massive support from teeming artists all over the world who in their
capabilities have been able to surmount the challenges in their own individual separate
approaches. Bluemel (1976) posits that Georges Seurat, was inspired to invent pointillism
after witnessing an exhibition of prints in 1883 at ‘Rue de Seze’ in Paris.
The effort aimed at bringing to fore a conceived idea into a tactile reality was
harnessed. Seurat immediately tasked himself by satisfying his curiosity when he tried his
hands on the concept of painting with either dots or brush strokes which was later termed
‘pointillism. Hammacher (1969), believes that pointillism was inspired from mosaic, which
share similar attributes with some of its aspects. This is evident in the use of beads that could
only be differentiated from pointillism in the sense that pointillism is two dimensional while
mosaic made of beads is more of a three dimensional technique. The researcher is not certain
of how long the development of a pointillism inspired effort lasted but judging by the periods
in question (from Neolithic to the contemporary), several decades must have passed with a
conglomerate of materials mostly that which could only show its existentiality through visual
forms of the subject without actually displaying the physical aspects of it. Williamson (1963),
states that “the earliest record of decorative mosaics are among relics of ancient North
American cultures. It is also understood that the Neolithic cultures of the Mesopotamian area
created mosaics. The Greeks of the Hellenistic period and the Romans are acclaimed to be the
first people to use mosaics extensively.
Stanfield (1956) is of the view that art does not mean working with only conventional
materials but also suggests that no artist should complain of not having materials because
they are abound locally. He further states that Nigeria is rich in providing substitutes. In view
of this, Stanfield continues that art students should be encouraged to source and prepare their
own materials as it is an important part of their training. The above assertion informed the
researcher’s quest to explore with unconventional materials in line with attempts by some
notable Nigerian contemporary artists like Jimoh Buraimoh and Chuka Amaefuna who use
industrially manufactured tiles, cowries and seeds respectively. Another artist of the Zaria Art
School extraction who has taken a bold step by taking a step away from the conventionalities
in this field is Jacob Jat Jari. He explores with cornstalk which is another step away from
paste up mosaic, though still on a two-dimensional realm, without a depiction of tangible
forms but rather than staying on the same level with the support, he uses an avalanche of
colors to define his forms. It is on these grounds that the researcher draws his inspiration
making use of nails as a material and technique of sculptural expression. The researcher tries
to develop on what painters have been able to achieve by bringing tangible forms into this
two-dimensional art, hence transformation of pointillists’ expressions into sculpture.
It is worthy of note at this point that the contributions of sculptors in the area of
translating pointillists’ expressions into sculpture with nails appears scanty. A few artists who
have attempted producing sculptures in similitude with pointillistic intent are as follows: Olu
Amoda, a Nigerian contemporary artist, Jennifer Maestre, a South African born American
artist, who uses sea urchins for her sculptures executed in the round, Herb Williams, an
American artist with a masterly handling of the crayons to produce sculpture in-the-round,
Chris Weed, another American artist with a variety of productions with constructed iron rod
of alternate sizes also produces his sculptures, also in the round. In terms of the material of
expression, the researcher sees it as partially uncultivated grounds and thinks it worthwhile as
it would open up corridors of knowledge for younger generation of sculptors. It is the view of
this researcher that varieties of nails may be found in the market for use in ways that release
them from their customary role and convert them into attractive media for the production of
sculptures for home or office decorations. Any type of nail can be used, provided it is free
from rust, grease, and other dirt. The researcher suggests the iron nails for its strength and
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Beginning from Georges Seurat, a post-impressionist painter, mostly painters and a
few sculptors have explored and produced works in the pointillistic approach, thereby making
this technique appear majorly as painters preserve. Even the scanty pointillist attempts that
have been made in sculpture all tilt towards free standing works making this exploration of
pointillists’ expression into relief sculpture to become imperative.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
i. Explore possibilities of translating pointillism from a twodimensional
to a three-dimensional approach in sculpture.
ii. Produce relief sculptures that will have a pointillist appearance with the use
of steel nails.
iii. Produce artworks by translating pointillism from painting to stylization in relief
1.4 Justification of the Study
A few number of works have been done using nails to produce a pointillistic
appearance in three-dimensional sculpture, with artists like Olu Amoda and the Minkisi
sculptures. All of them, to the awareness of the researcher, tilt towards free-standing
sculpture. More so, the relative novelty of the nail as a material of expression, which hitherto
was used as a carpentry material in joining wood and its (nails) availability informed the
choice. This research therefore, attempts the production of sculptures in a relief format on a
plain surface, with the use of industrially manufactured nails.
1.5 Significance of the Study
The conventional methods of modeling, carving, casting and lately, installation, in
sculpture have in no small measure impeded the supposed developmental pace of this area of
art which hitherto made the conception of this approach in sculpture to look burdensome,
tedious and impossible. This study shall provide an extra option at producing sculptures,
especially with nails without necessarily using the conventional materials of expressions but
yet achieving the desired results. This shall also unlock the seeming possibilities by
proffering suitable solutions to arriving at various aesthetics associated with it.
1.6 Scope and Delimitation of the Study
This research is delimited to changing pointillists’ expressions and its associated
aesthetics that were usually considered an exclusive preserve of painting into relief sculpture
on a flat surface. It is primarily concerned with the exploration with nails as a suitable
material for gradual translation from subjective realism to stylization.
In relation to the above, the researcher chose to explore these forms under the
guidance of selected natural and social elements within Zaria. This is due largely to the
researcher’s proximity to, and admiration for some of the natural and social activities within
Zaria. The availability of steel nails, which is the material of expression for this research, also
informs and nurtures the researcher’s choice.
1.7 Organization of the Work.
This study is divided into five chapters. Chapter one deals with matters concerning
introduction in its totality, chapter two looks into review of relevant literature and works,
chapter three takes charge of methodology whereas chapter four analyses the works and
presents catalogue of works produced in the course of the research, while chapter five deals
extensively with summary and conclusion.


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