Charles Hecht featured in Zhong Guan Cun Magazine, one of the two leading Chinese art magazines.
English translation immediately follows Chinese text
Charles: An Ambassador between Human Beings and the Sea
Wearing a whale pattern T-shirt plus a scuba diving club raincoat, Charles Hecht walked across the street in a rainy day in Beijing like a fish swimming in the sea. That was my first impression on this artist.
Living not far from the sea; Charles naturally becomes a scuba diving lover. The infinity, power and inspiration gained from the diving in the sea is exquisitely built in his artworks. He created a Spermoid sculpture series in all sorts of colors and forms and placed some of them on the wall, some in the ceilings, and some simply on the table with sand underneath.
The happiness and Sadness of the Coral Reef
Working, scuba diving, traveling and talking with people are the key words in Charlie’s life and in his sculptures as well. Charles’ hometown Southern California is very famous for the coral reef and a diversity of marine lives. This marine paradise is not only for the sea creatures but also a perfect spot for Charles’ to engage in his beloved scuba diving.
Charles’ has always been infatuated in searching for uniquely shaped corals and animals while diving in the sea where he would be surrounded by all kinds of marine lives especially the coral reefs. Hundreds of miles of coral reefs help create a mini ecosystem with fishes’ reproducing, seaweeds’ photosynthesizing and the metabolites filled with rich organic matter feeding the coral feel back.
In “The Coral Sea Segment Series”, Charles used metal and glass to have created the uniquely-shaped coral reefs. Metal combined with glass helped manufacture a fantasy of the assimilation of coral reefs and marine animals; which would by no doubt stimulate people’s curiosities on this incredible fascinating underwater world.
However, what Charles really wanted to convey here is to help raise the awareness of the protection of the endangered coral reef.
At the Climate Change Conference at Copenhagen, children from Tuvalu complained tearfully that their country which was build on the coral reefs are diminishing due to the sea water temperature change caused by global warming.
Various statistics and evidences have shown that the coral reef ecosystem might be the first of its kind to become extinct.
Another work on the endangered state of the coral reef is “The Kelp Cora Series” where Charles utilized the metal carving technique to have interpreted the fragile state of coral reef ecosystem. The sharp contrast between the hardness of the metal and the softness of the sea helped fabricate a tension where Charlie’s concerns are delicately revealed. Charles said, “Metal might be the the idealist material here to manifest the concept that all the machines that the fishermen and scuba diving companies are using is jeopardizing the coral reefs.”
Thanks to Charles’ works, people living far away from the sea can also have the chance to know about the precious coral reef as a concrete subject rather than a vague image.
“The Kelp Coral Series” symbolizes the environmental harmony with the coral reef and fish bring out each other’s best together. The sculpture is displaced with a 45 degree angle, which is especially designed in order to call for attention that people should stop using cyanide and explosives in fishing.
The coral reef looks very strong and stiff; however, the truth is that the anthozoa are very sensitive to the water quality. When the coastal plants are destroyed, the dirt with industrial waste flushed into the sea water; the coral reef is destined to a massacre. Another even more horrifying thread comes from the explosives and toxic chemical matter used in fishing. To be or not to be, that is a question!
A Sea of Glass and Steel
In 2003, Charles was invited to visit Beijing where he opened his workroom in 318 Beijing Art Village. He soon found that China is a place full of inspiration which has attracted artists from all around the world to come here. Charles said that the same piece that he would have to spend a whole year to complete in America; he only used two weeks in China.
Two years later, Charles opened his first exhibition named “American & Chinese Flag Sculptures” in Beijing Pickled Art Center. This exhibition attracted quite a big crowd; which Charles felt was an unforgettable experience for him. The art pieces used in this exhibition manifests Charlie’s early style featuring metal accessories including sheet metals, blue and white marbles and epoxy resins. All these materials helped make a magic impression for the audience as if the flags are waving in the wind.
Charles adores the metal texture; and he uses materials that people usually toss away like steel plugs, metal fragments and bleached rocks in his art pieces. However, those seemingly useless material were turned into beautiful art pieces reflecting the coral reef in a steel-like shape adorned with copper in the hand of Charles. The shiny color and texture exuded from the copper constructs a fascinating scene of a volcano eruption.
Charles has been incorporating more and more Chinese elements into his art pieces since 2008. After a visit to a glass works in Shandong Province, Charles started adding melted glass into the steel mould to make a variety of interesting shapes of steel and glass. He really appreciated the new technology applied in the glass works; thus he established a long-term cooperating relationship with this glass works so that he could utilize this new technology in his own art works as well. Brainstorming in Beijing, making moulds in Shandong, finishing the art pieces in Beijing and New York; Charles manages to make every step going smoothly until the his progeny is ready to be displaced.
The childhood affinity and curiosity toward the sea also makes Charles fall in love with almost everything natural and mysterious. Besides the sea, the traditional African dancing is another source of Charles’ inspiration. In the sculpture “African Ceremonial Dancers”, people can see the stark contrast between the modern culture and the primitive culture exhibited from the ceremonial dancing of people living in the African tribes.
Sculpture “Serape Woman” is a recently finished piece by Charles. In this piece, Charles uses the woman body shape to mirror the floating sea water and his love toward the sea. The orange color obtained in steel welding on the sculpture makes it look noble and elegant like a queen. However, the sea is not always symbolized as the dignified. A very long time ago, before the 20th century B.C., due to the lack of production technology and the hardship of life, the sea was considered having massive destructive power by the ancient Greeks. As with the advancement of technology, people gradually gained the power to control nature; most of the metaphors about the sea is more and more associated with romance, love and inclusiveness. Then comes Charles’ “Serape Woman” as one of the typical examples here. Charles believes that the sea water, just like the shape of women’s figures, symbolizes the feminine aesthetic movement.
The sea and anything related to it has become an indispensable part of Charles’ works from which he kindly calls for the attention to love and care about the sea and further protect our home---the environment.