Coarse & Amanda Visell’s ZigZag

Long-time viewers of my video reviews may recognize the Last Days of Autumn limited edition vinyl sculpture from 2015 (reviewed here), and though we discussed this thoroughly when it was issued, it does connect directly to what we’re examining today. So please bear with me a little bit, as we’re going to quickly discuss this piece’s history before venturing into its conceptual successor, 2017’s ZigZag.

A Brief History of Last Days of Autumn

The Last Days of Autumn concept came from a series created by Amanda Visell. Revealing an anthropomorphized tree, house, and mountain, each emanating a palpable aura of sadness, their forlorn faces matching their overall poses of resignation, these paintings portraying captured moments of torment and destruction at the tiny hands of children and woodland creatures.
And these concepts were the basis for sculptural interpretations by Mark Landwehr and Sven Waschk’s coarse studio, the resulting unique works displayed at German art fairs in 2014. The following year saw the debut of vinyl cast editions of Last Days of Autumn, whose limited run color schemes included the autumn-hued Frenzy, the early frost laden Shiver, and the more traditionally natural shades of Chop Chop. Each accompanied by a fable-like story explaining the scene, we learned in it that the Old Log is the lone survivor of a once lush forest, and the Boys & Girls had been tasked with finding firewood so their village might survive the forthcoming winter. But, since then, an addition has been made to the tale, manifesting as ZigZag.

My Impressions of the ZigZag

Roughly a quarter of the size of the 11½-inch tall Old Log, ZigZag‘s story furthers “the vanishing woods” scenario. As the accompanying account relays, “Daylight is here, and ZigZag can no longer take cover in the darkness. He used to know this forest so well, but he has been going in circles for days. The child’s laughter is not distant anymore, so ZigZag emerges from his hiding spot and runs. No matter how far he travels, the laughter always finds him.
“ZigZag can barely catch his breath. I used to be a tree, he remembers. He stops running, plants his feet in the ground and reaches his arms to the sky. I can become a tree again, he thinks, but the child’s laughter is louder now. It is the only thing he hears.”
A brilliant commentary on the destructive relationship mankind has with nature, this condensed interpretation of Last Days of Autumn‘s concept retains the original’s impact and wonderful execution. ZigZag itself is beautifully rendered, a single perfectly positioned outgrowth accentuating the tactilely pleasing grooved bark, which is decorated by a brushing of walnut brown over its beige base, lending a subtle depth to the whole.
With all the tree trunk’s rings being painted rather than sculpted, both atop the form and in its palms, this provides a delightful contrast to the bark’s feel. And one that carries over to the single excised aspect of his form that’s included in the set, hinting that the child character has caught up to him at least once.
As for the Girl component, a magnet inset in her foot affixes her to an acrylic base, allowing her to stand securely as she proudly holds aloft her removable axe accessory. And while I love her blissfully closed eyes and radiantly happy smile, she becomes more complex when compared to her previously issued counterpart.
While the new piece’s axe is more vibrantly colored, indicating a newer model, the Girl’s nightgown, hair, and cheeks are covered in brush strokes resembling smudges of dirt. And, to me, this implies the how long and difficult the chase to catch ZigZag has been. Which also speaks to how dwindling the number of the forest’s trees must be that she’d endure so much for such a small stump.
Creating a beautiful balance between Coarse’s sculptural creativity and Visell’s artistic aesthetic, ZigZag was debuted at May 2017’s Thailand Toy Expo in the cherry tree Satsura depiction and the cold colored Shiver rendition, with the third and final Chop Chop version being issued at last year’s DesignerCon.

Editions of ZigZag [show]

For more information on coarse:
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For more information on Amanda Visell:
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