Artist Thomas Doyle creates small scale diorama sculptures that are
meticulous, intimate, and enigmatic. Driven by an interest in
storytelling, Doyle constructs memories and experiences that, due to the
size of the works, elicit intensely personal interactions while
maintaining an other-worldly intangibility.
Doyle started making the diorama sculptures about eight years ago after years spent with painting and printmaking.
“I was, like many children, obsessed with miniatures, action figures, models, and the like when I was young,” Doyle told The Art Reserve. “I made dioramas as a boy and always wanted to return to it; later when I was casting about for a medium that would hold my interest I stumbled back into this one and found a perfect fit.”
Doyle’s dioramas typically begin as sketches, often dotted with notes and ideas – “glistening grass,” “pile of beds,” “despondent husband gazes on,” etc. Once he is ready to work, the materials can come from a variety of sources – some are ready-made, others are from kits, and some are built from scratch. There is a hyper-real quality to the works that is a result of Doyle’s execution and his attention to detail, proportion, and form. This pronounced precision quarrels with a feeling of organic effortlessness, and the works hover somewhere between illusion and a sort of phenomenological reality.
Doyle’s interest in themes of detachment and isolation can be seen throughout the works – many end up having an ominous or unsettling tone. In The Reprisal (2006), a man digs a ditch while a woman looks on, two pairs of legs sticking out from beneath a tarp. In Courier (2007), a man approaches a tilted house, the door slightly opened to a blackened interior. Other works deal with what Doyle refers to as “obliviousness” or “a sense of the absurd.” In The Barrage Lifts (2010), a woman and child approach an upside-down house – the foundation above ground, and the house itself below (the sculpture seems to float within its glass enclosure). Though palpable, Doyle says that it isn’t a conscious decision to effect the dark mood that sometimes emerges while working with these subjects and themes.
“Though I am acutely aware of the danger of quaintness with the medium,” he says.
These frozen moments are mysterious and engaging. Time stops, figures are mid-stride – often on the verge of some discovery – and a natural response is to wonder what happened before, and what will happen after. There is no prescribed answer, and so control of destiny is handed over to the viewer. In this way, the works are as much about what are seeing as what we are not, resulting in a boundlessness that eclipses encapsulation.
Currently, Doyle is at work on a series that will be exhibited as photographs. To see more of his work, visit www.thomasdoyle.net.