Amelan and Bill T. Jones
When I observe
the "performance in stone" that is the early eleventh-century Baphuon-style
female figure, I wonder what was the artist's intent. If this is
in fact the goddess Parvati, I struggle with the tension generated
between this work's idealized abstraction and its mastery in eliciting
from stone the most sensual supremely human aspects of a living
What is the
function of this work?
goddess in meditative repose is intended to elicit the same in her
follower, she is simultaneously a feast of suggested volumes, crevices,
and lines that in fact titillate and arouse. Below the ample smoothness
of her breasts and belly, there is the maddening promise of movement
in her sarong as it slips downward past the swell of her hips. An
austere cascade of line representing the garment's folds plunges
past her sex, reserving the privilege of a flirtation in its airy
fluting. Does this fluting "fishtail" catch a bit of breeze like
the playful tie of her belt as it reveals the delicious recess of
The quiet curves
of this female figure, from the gentle slope of her shoulders, breasts
rounding still, waist gliding through ample hips cascading down
an elongated skirt, conspires to create an effect of chaste, insistent
simplicity. The absence of a head, arms, and feet, the delicately
etched lines of her skirts, demure and pale, reinforce this effect.
At the same time, the lines return our eyes to the fullness of her
torso in an emblematic embrace between a twenty-first century gaze
and an expression in sandstone across the divide of
culture and time.
is difficult to create something as pure and unadorned yet as visually
arresting as this elegant figure. The simplicity of this sculpture
is not the work of a beginner but rather the mature distillation
of a master. Just as a haiku expresses meaning with few syllables,
this piece conveys power with few gestures. Her beauty is timeless.
The graceful silhouette is echoed in objects ranging from ancient
Chinese bronzes to the classic Coca Cola bottle. Could I make a
piece as simple yet as strong? Do I need the technical difficulty
and profuse patterning that is so much a part of my work in order
to prove my mastery?
The simple elegance
of proportion and balance. I am drawn in particular to her belly
and the suggestion beneath the translucent skinlike sarong. But her feet ...