One could look at an ancient Greek sculpture and immediately determine the emotion and context of the piece in front of them, whether it is the embrace of lovers or the strength and power of man. When it comes to the sculptures of local Santa Fe artist, Martin Spei, each character represents a contradiction of feelings and a narrative that takes deep inspection to unravel. Viewing Spei’s sculptures from a distance can create an entirely different perspective from examining the pieces up close; and therein lies the beauty of his art and the accuracy in representing the archetype of man.
Spei’s love for the observation of people, be it in a grocery store or in the Santa Fe plaza, provides him with an understanding of himself and inspiration for his work. “All of these characters are me and my reaction to the world and what is in it,” Spei explains. Through the use of bronze, iron, aluminum, plaster and many other materials, Martin Spei conveys complex human emotions in pieces that are frozen in time.
Martin Spei’s “Golden Box Series” represents a sentiment that each and every human can relate to. Each figure is nowhere near perfect and portrays the sense of inadequacy that we all have a propensity to feel. Furthermore, each sculpture incorporates a golden box, which represents something precious. This collection of work is a reminder that we all have something precious. Regardless of who we are or where we come from, we each have something we cherish and value; we all have a golden box.
Another fascinating piece is Spei’s “Seven.” At first glance, one could observe seven individuals holding briefcases walking in what appears to be a busy scene. Upon closer inspection, it is clear that each of these characters are walking against the wind, or as Spei put it, “against the force of nature.” Also, each figure is barefoot upon a monolith, representing the idea that, “although we do all these things to feel bigger and better, we are still animals marching atop a manmade structure.”
Martin Spei’s work requires a considerable amount of time to create and can take just as much time to comprehend, but in the end, each person can find a way to relate. “There is no one story to describe the human story,” Spei states. Life is a series of emotions and Martin Spei’s sculptures help to justify just that.