For some time now, I have admired from afar the works of Nathan Doss; in my view, not only is Doss a talented sculptor, but he is also driven by confidence and ambition. In fact, he has succeeded in developing his own unique style, one that is all the more precious and rare because it cannot be attributed to the influence of any of the established masters of this art form.
Doss's skill and technical mastery reflect positively on his works, especially in demonstrating freedom of form without sacrificing any of the meticulous details involved in transforming the wax model into a finished bronze piece. We notice, for example, this same mastery in the fluidity of every line, every voice, and every movement of the mass. This ability lends a kind of expressive energy to the execution of the figures in his works, depicted tightly confined in cages or behind iron bars; they are restrained from all movement and with no hope of escaping this rigid embrace. Indeed, these are anatomical forms whose resistance has been crushed into a state of submission; one that is represented by bowed heads slumped against the chest, or burrowing forms with necks craned towards the sky in vain.The figures featured in Nathan Doss's sculptures are worn out, crumpled, legs dragging backwards and concave chests, unkempt braided hair, desolate and broken in spirit. Another signature feature is an anatomical form with limbs and sharply protruding ribs, tightly shackled by cords. Also distinguishing the sculptures of Doss is the fluidity with which the mass is transformed from an organic outline into an exercise in suppleness.
Set free from this pattern of bondage and despair are works such as the Crown of Thorns, where John the Baptist is depicted proclaiming his stance with staff in hand, a slender yet regal figure in his flowing robes. In such works, creative expression becomes more focused, lending a mellow air and balance to the mass in contrast to the bondage elements featuring corporal forms inside geometrical shapes. Despite the heavily symbolic expression, the works take on an ornamental aspect tinged with beauty, a sense of wonder, fluidity, particularly evident in the wax model.
Doss's mastery over his medium reaches the point of extravagance in certain details and contours, displaying a range between expressionism and multi-sourced inspiration and themes in the design, execution, and elements of digital and holographic art such as the hollowed out statue of a female figure, and the stand-alone head in another work. Here, the style of execution, sculpting, and hollowing varies greatly from that of smaller works featuring human and animal shapes as well as abstract symbols.
Generally speaking, the narrower the scope of his sculpture, the greater depth Doss achieves. In the Crown of Thorns, for example, this economy of space reaches its pinnacle in terms of fluid motion, spatial dimension, the irregular slants and intricate workings of the thorns on the crown. All this elaborate detail immeasurably adds to the expressive power of the symbolic piece, despite its raw simplicity. The work seems to attract light to its surface and over its spaces with astonishing and dramatic effect.
t is these small and intricate protrusions and contours that draw and delight the viewer's eye to Nathan Doss's sculptures.