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3D-Printed Metal Sculptures and the Search for Utopia

Ioan Florea’s artwork is very large because his concerns are very large. In July, we covered the artist’s tactile paintings, paint combined with 3D printed elements to form abstractions over 6 feet in height. Now, the Romanian born American artist has moved onto giant sculptures made with 3D-printed “liquid metal”.

Grand Torino Ioan Florea tactile sculpture

cyrus cylinder Ioan Florea tactile sculptureDisplayed at Surplus Gallery in Carbondale, Illinois, Florea’s Tactile Histories is a tribute to human rights and the international community on a meta and personal level. Included in the exhibition were a modified Grand Torino juxtaposed with a covered wagon, giant replicas of nanostructures, large paintings of the US citizenship test, and a recreation of the 2600-year-old Cyrus Cylinder.  The Cyrus Cylinder, said to be “the first bill of human rights” after the Shah of Iran declared it as such in the 1960s, is a 4 by 9 inch scroll clay cylinder covered in Cuneiform script outlining the history of the Persian Empire and king Cyrus. Florea blew the cylinder up to 4 by 9 feet with its text recreated in 3D-printed form.

The entire installation is meant to be a representation of the artist’s journey from Communist Romania, where artistic expression was not allowed, to becoming a citizen of the United States.  The artist describes the meaning behind his work in this way, “My recent work is also influenced by my personal experience through the lengthy legal immigration process – and addresses the globalization and human migration in search for utopian spaces and the consequences that come with… From primitive society to contemporary world human migrate in search of food or better lives. The primitive hunting societies follow the animal great distances. The contemporary man follows jobs and better opportunities searching for utopic places in developed countries.”

american dream red box cyrus cylinder Ioan Florea tactile sculpture

In order to achieve the tactility in his work, Florea developed his 3D-printing transfer technique. Florea first 3D prints moulds on his Solidoodle printer and, then, coats those molds in a resin and paint – in the case of “Tactile Histories”, the paint is metallic. The resulting shapes are removed from the printed material and transferred onto his canvas or sculpture.

transfer Ioan Florea tactile sculpture

For an interview with the artist, listen to this Midwestern podcast, The Middle GroundFor more pictures of the exhibition and Florea’s other work, visit his website.