Sunwheels

logo of the Ateliershop

It is safe to say that I have become  artistically obsessed with sunwheels since quite some time. This goes along nicely with my late obsession for the sun itself. A few years back, this was quite different. I hated summertime and took every chance to lurk around in the shadows, as being exposed to the sun was a complete hell for me. But that changed at some point. Today, for me, there is nothing better than a hot and dry sunny day. After winter, when spring comes with the first sunny days, I feel like a cold-blooded lizard, eagerly waiting to get my body temperature on a functional level by sitting in the sun.

 

You find representations of the sun in every culture. It is one of the oldest archaic symbols men created. You find it on cave walls, ancient jewellery, architecture and sculptures. Whole cults were dedicated to the sun. Which is highly understandable, given the fact that without the sun we would not even exist. Even plants, that don’t care for radiation levels killing all other life, would not exist without the sun, as their life is based on the process of photosynthesis. Celebrating the solstices is also a very old tradition, and personally one of the ones that I follow myself. While many other traditional celebrations seem odd to me, specially the modern adaptions of them, the summer solstices feel very real. While for example New Year’s Eve means nothing to me at all, the summer solstices truly devide my year in seasonal parts that I can feel and experience.

The first sunwheel I ever created was a digital collage, dating back almost 15 years, when I was actually still prefering to stay out of the sun. Same creation has become my Ateliershop logo last year, with a different color scheme though. A second one followed a few years later, the artwork “Four Kissing Goats“, a mix of photography-based digital collage and overpainting. The artwork was banned from my first exhibition in Berlin in 2009, because the responsible gallerist feared a similarity to a certain forbidden German symbol. I don’t really see the connection. I wear a variation of the same artwork on my back by way, tattooed on my skin.

After those works, I was done with the subject for quite a while. Until 2014, when my obsession for sunwheels and the sun really started. Moving into my old studio in Leipzig (the original Atelier Abraxas) in December 2013, the whole area around it was a strange urban wasteland. Some dead plants caught my attention, because of their roots, and I took them into the studio. They did lounge around for a few month, until I came up with the idea of a sunwheel made of roots. The rootwheel was born. The idea stuck, and I created a few variations of it. After that I lost count. The rootwheel also became a motive for the handpainted shirts of my small label Okkulteur, but that happend quite some time later, somewhen in 2016, during my time in the Thuringian forest. Those rootwheels also became patient zero of a series of sunwheel sculptures made from different materials. At some point I created the “Antler’s Cross” and the “Antler’s Wheels”, followed by the “Wheel of Seven“, a sunwheel made of goat/sheep bones, with ornamental fox teeth and a dolphin vertebrae in the center. My latest sunwheel is the “Wheel of Fire”, made of dried Protea repens and lower jaws of deers. Anyone who visited my last exhibition “KultHaus” might remember it. Sketches and ideas for more sunwheels exist already and the upcoming new collection of handpainted shirts will also feature at least one new version. The worship of the sun will continue!

 

The “Wheel of Seven”

Although I do prefer to not explain every artwork I create (and there are for sure ones, you will never find me writing about), I like to continue to introduce some artworks to the interested reader. This special introduction I am writing on the request of the new owner of this piece.

This is a unique sculpture piece that I have created in March this year, in a series of various sunwheels made of different natural materials, it is called “Wheel of Seven“. It is one of my personal favourites.

There are many ways of interpretation and I will start with one that I did not primarily have in mind when creating it, but that also correlates nicely. If you are familiar with Greek mythology, which was actually a hobbyhorse of mine when I was a child, along with all the old mythologies and their pantheons of gods, you sure are familiar with the Greek god and personification of the sun, the god Helios.  Helios wears a crown of a radiant halo and drives the chariot of the sun across the sky each day. In many depictions (not in all) his radiant halo is seven-pointed. Same goes for the equivalent in Roman mythology, the sun god Sol.

While I originally refer to it as another sunwheel because of its radial structure, I also see it as a “wheel of planets”, where the sun is only a part of the bigger image. The seven refer to the so-called classical planets, that are visible with the plain eye and have therefor been known the longest in astronomic history. This dates back to the Chaldeans, from the far southeastern corner of Mesopotamia, that was later assimilated into Babylonia. Sun and moon where included into the list, to correlate to the pantheon of gods. The Chaldeans had a special order for the planets, each refering to one of the seven weekdays it is supposed to rule: Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Sun.

If you would connect the seven endpoints of this sculpture, you get a (slightly distorted, due to the features of the natural materials) seven-pointed star (heptagram), that is open for many other interpretations as well, from christian to neopagan to thelemitic, and even Game of Thrones fans will find their own point of view I guess. But if you have to make this connection lines, I very much prefer the alchemical point of view, which leads us back to those seven classical planets mentioned above.

The Wheel of Seven is made of natural materials. No animals have been killed for this sculpture, of course, all parts are from animals who died for different reasons quite some time ago. The radial bones are of goat or sheep (I am not a biologist, so sadly I can’t tell the difference) found on the Canary Islands. The fox teeth ornaments at the end of every bone are of German origin. The vertebrae in the center of the piece is from a dolphin, I found it many years ago on the beach of Heimaey, the small volcanic island southwest of Iceland.

The Wheel of Seven is not available anymore, it has been sold and will very soon travel to its new owner in Munich, Bavaria.

On my own account I like to add something to this post. I have a few ideas and sketches for more bone sculptures, some small, some larger scale. These mainly require older bones, that have preferedly been exposed to the elements for quite some time, like the ones I used in the Wheel of Seven. Although goat and sheep bones are very nice, the bones I am looking for can be of any animal and size. From where I live, such bones are hard to come by. I found such in the South of Europe, specially in Spain and Greece, but also in Northern countries. If you live in an area where it is possible to find them in larger amounts, please send me a message to atelier(.)abraxas(at)gmail(.)com. I might include such locations into my future travel plans. If you should be willing to collect some bone material for me yourself, I am willing to pay a small finders fee as well as the packing & postage for it of course.