Angels have been depicted in art for thousands of years. They’re typically represented as beautiful, youthful ideals, full of glowing halos and powerful wings, or as adorable babies (classically known as putti) with chubby cheeks and mischievous grins.
Then, there’s the angel sculpture created by artists Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, a duo hailing from China. This depiction takes a much more realistic — and unsettling — approach to the concept of angels.
The sculpture, created in a highly realistic style, shows an elderly angel who seems to have fallen mid-flight.
The angel in this piece, titled simply Angel, takes the form of an old woman with a wrinkled face and sparse hair.
Her aged wings have lost their feathers and she seems weak and vulnerable, perhaps even dead. Her helplessness and frailty seem at odds with the general idea of an immortal and powerful supernatural being, but that’s the point.
The piece is a startling reminder of the fragility of all things, even the things whose power we may have taken for granted.
The installation also includes this net cage, which appears to be some kind of trap. The idea of a trapped angel adds another layer of meaning to the piece.
From here, it seems like the angel, trapped inside a cage, is languishing. Perhaps it’s because she can’t fulfill her angelic duties of helping those in need.
Though the sculpture looks real, it’s actually made of silica, fiberglass, steel, and mesh.
Sun Yuan and Pengu Yu have been known to use much more macabre materials, including human tissue, in their pieces, but this one is wholly synthetic.
There are probably hundreds of interpretations that one could make about this sculpture, so we’ll let you decide which one you think is correct — if there can be a correct one at all.
You can find more work by this artist pair on their website.