Over 1500 years after the fall of Rome, sculptor Daniel Williams has resurrected the empire's style of classical sculpture. Muscular male nude figures with bulging, ripped abs are the artist's bread and butter, rendered in stunning detail and possessed of perfect proportionality. More interesting than Williams' technical prowess are the unusual facial expressions and situations his "Renaissance men" find themselves in.
Armed with faces of despair, agony, and seething anger, his works are a departure from the often-stoic Roman busts and sculptures he emulates. In other moments, his sculptures depart from plausible reality entirely, with conjoined heads sprouting from a figure's shoulders like demented shoulder pads and a man's face warping into a smaller archangel.
This surreal and grotesque direction is derived from an influence of sci-fi movies. "I had a very early obsession with H.R. Giger's designs for the Alien movies. I saw the first movie when I was around eight or nine years old, and I found myself far more fascinated than afraid," Williams tells Creators.
"Before seeing Alien, I drew dinosaurs and nothing else, but as my artistic interests shifted towards humanoid monstrosities, my father made an apt observation that I feel has shaped my artistic trajectory more than anything else. In so many words, he explained to me that the artists who create monsters like Alien or Predator had to master the human anatomy and the principles of art before they could achieve something so believable and scary," he says.
Yet, the figures in Williams' sculptures, who often seem to scream in terror, are not meant to be overtly representative of fear. He says, "I create characters to give physical representations to ideas or allegorical figures. There is a portion of my work centered around Sigmund Freud's theory of the three parts of the human mind, the Id, the Ego, and the Super-Ego."
"The open-mouthed figures I have created are representative of the Id. In these cases, the open mouth isn't a scream so much as a roar of power and consumption."
Along with his interest in sci-fi and Freud, Williams' practice engages with classical themes and subject matter. "My sculpture Thanaterotic Anxiety shows representations of a veiled Thanatos and a blind Eros, ensnaring and distorting between a third figure attempting to wrestle free of their clutches on both mind and body. Stuck between his sexual desire and the fear of his own mortality, his screaming face is one of anxiety, fear, and maybe a touch of panic."
Check out a full archive of Daniel Williams's expressive sculptures on his website, here.