Negative Spaces in a Positive Light

Positive and negative space: In Organic wood sculpture the positive space would be the material sculpture and the negative space would be the background. When a piece is created with both positive and negative space the art tells a visual story. Negative space is just as important as positive space because it gives the art piece balance.

Mass and space could also be known as the positive and negative energy of dimensional sculpture. Without one the other wouldn’t exist. The mass or positive would be the solid structure with surrounding space providing the negative. The mass can be any shape. Rounded, complex, simple, thick, thin, etc.

Open depressions, smooth round openings carved in the positive mass bring a negative space and provide interesting characteristics in the piece. This is very true in this genre of sculpture. That being Organic Shape or Biomorphic Abstract.

When a sculptor carves out openings with-in the piece it can add a strong or sometimes extreme contrast of light and dark or otherwise known as chiaroscuro. This term originated during the Renaissance Period and was used in paintings. The key is not to overuse this sculptural feature because the strong contrast affects the entire piece.

The surface of the mass is the separation border between mass and space. The surface can be smooth or textured, highly polished or rough.

On the discovery road of understanding what are the styles and movements in sculpture Negative and Positive Space plays a big role and can define the piece. The three dimensional space in art especially in sculptural art can tell the story.

Kevin Doberstein is a sculptural artist who is represented by galleries in New Mexico and Wisconsin.

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