Coming full circle
If someone asked me to say in a single word what Paul Neagus' sculptures were about I would say "energy." Energy compacted into the points of his "hyphens" or bursting out of the star-shaped "fusions." They seem to be generators of an unseen force. Perhaps they find their ancestors in the megaliths and stone circles of early Europe and in the cathedrals and temples. His sculptures should not really be seen apart from his performances which have taken place in Edinburgh.In these the expression of dynamism reflects a similar performance enacted by his megalithic predecessors out of inner necessity.
In my childhood I often visited a farm. My favourite implement on that farm was the plough. I saw it in action biting deep into the soil and turning it over with apparent effortlessness. The large pointed shares followed the coulter and cut a slice of earth, then passed it on to the mouldboard. Out of use it was equally magnificent and strong, glorying in its potential and standing proudly upon its shares. A triangle of power.
When I came across Neagus' sculptures I immediately recognized them as relations of the plough. Later I found that he had said "Hyphen is my recurrent instrument of work as the plough is for the farmer. Conceptually it relates the essence of the earthm to the body of manm and to the ideas of harvest -- the man knows that the salt in the soil and his planted seed will, one day, become a round fruit. As there is a hierarchy of quality: mineral, vegetable, animal, human -- so there is organization in my geometry: triangle, rectangle, spiral, sphere."
The fusion, star/circles are generally wall mounted. They seem to reflect the sun and stars, besides alluding to molecular energy. What seems to be important is that the patterns are universal patterns. The forms that exist have fundamental geometric forms and the puissant forces encountered have a related dynamism. Though Neagus' work inhabits that area between figurative and abstract, it is seldom rooted by its figurative allusions.
Surrounded by the unfleshed energy of air, the sculptures seem to act as terminals or lightning conductors. From the unseen element comes a power that is drawn into the earth by the "hyphens" and then thrust outwards by the exploding "fusions."
Paul Neagus obviously owes a great deal to his Romanian origins. Like Brancusi he has been fascinated by Romanian venacular architecture and folk art. The sculptures he makes take note of his origins but are not culture bound. His concerns lie with forms and forces which are omnifarious.