Sunday, December 21, 2008

Michael Dominick

Destructive techniques create beautiful art. Taking "action painting" to the limit, Michael Dominick paints with boiling, molten iron splashed on a relatively soft surface, typically drawing paper supported by wood or sheet-rock board.

The encounter between the two totally contrasting materials is nothing less than spectacular, which is why an iron pour show always draws a large and enthusiastic crowd (heavy metal band music is only appropriate, of course). The results, too, are always intriguing. The surface truly becomes the "scene of action", as the reaction to the iron splash can almost never be predicted. Abstract expressionism, if you will, with Jackson Pollock, willem de Koonig and others in mind, but with much less control and many more safeguards. Safely handling a heavy bucket of molten iron at 2800 degrees is no small feat.

The furnace is heated up and accepts charge after charge of scrap metal, typically pieces of old heaters left in demolished buildings. Like a scene taken from middle age foundries, the team assisting Michael don protective leather gear from head to toe, head and eye safety gear included - to ensure no drop of molten iron lands on exposed flesh.

When the metal reaches the right temperature, the furnace is "tapped", and a charge of molten iron is poured into a heavy metal bucket.

With swift arm & wrist movements, Michael splashes the iron across the surface, previously treated with a special compound of his creation, making it more resistant to the intense heat.

Due to the extreme heat of the substance, the molten iron doesn't settle for the most part, but chars its way across the surface, exposing the underlying layers and creating random hues, mainly red, orange and yellows. Since different areas of the surface react differently to the molten iron, a wide range of mini-reactions occur on the surface creating a strong, compelling visual. Biblical fire, meteor rain, firebirds - all are visuals that come to mind upon first glance at the piece.

Post process includes dusting off the piece, removing small iron particles that remain stuck to the surface, and spraying fixer. Minor additions are made with, what else, a torch.

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