Grounds For Sculpture (GFS) is pleased to present two exhibitions by Canadian artist James Carl. James Carl: oof will be on view in GFS’s East Gallery beginning July 28, 2018 and James Carl: woof will be on view in the Domestic Arts Building beginning August 11, 2018. Both exhibitions are curated by GFS Chief Curator, Tom Moran.
Carl makes his first major US debut at GFS with two parallel sculpture exhibitions, oof and woof. James Carl: oof is a monumentally scaled wall relief constructed from brown cardboard. It uses the iconic cast-pulp commercial egg carton as a formal starting point and explodes that structure across the full length of the East Gallery’s imposing 80’ long accordion-shaped wall. Inspired by the egg carton, Carl has created his own simulated version in a geometric form which is die-cut, assembled, and installed by the dozens on the vast wall. Carl observes that the work’s visual “noise” will contrast with its acoustic flattening on the space.
As with much of Carl’s work, oof makes use of common materials and cultural reference points in the generation of a visually charged experience. The title of the work alludes simultaneously to the visual punch of the piece and to the French word, oeuf, meaning “egg”. Other examples in American culture of such an approach to surface modulation date to the early days of Rock n’ Roll when egg cartons were used to balance the acoustics of recording and performance. This approach became the norm and was used by “garage” and “grunge” bands from New Jersey to Seattle.
“Relief sculpture is explicit in its reliance on architecture to give it a place in the world. It struggles with three dimensionality and autonomy, using spatial illusion, pattern, and implied movement as means to exceed its architectural confines,” says Carl. “In both Neo-Classical and Modern examples, relief is exploited for socially didactic purposes—affording walls a voice.” He negotiates these various histories in a work which is perceptually disorienting and remarkably mute His enormous site-specific relief sculpture, oof consists of complex structural geometries in precisely cut cardboard forms. Across from the wall relief, a freestanding and seemingly “folded” plywood sculpture poses stoically in elegant complexity nearby.
“James brings an organizational sophistication to his sculptures and utilizes exacting mathematical planning in the creation of the works,” says Moran. “Working with him and watching his process unfold during his site-specific installation in the East Gallery has been a bit mad genius and an important opportunity for James to work on a scale that advances his art. I’m thrilled we are able to support this next step in his career.”
In the Domestic Arts Building, James Carl: woof features work from Carl’s Jalousie series. These works focus on Carl’s decades-long exploration of volume, form, and cultural archeology. Carl creates these works by using a remarkably elaborate and mathematical process of weaving lengths of venetian blinds which in the marketplace are the mainstay of high-end decorators. The 17 sculptures in woof are colorful and complexly woven metal forms which present the viewer with a unique perceptual experience since the forms are perforated by the weave. At the same time, the works incorporate a wonderful sense of playfulness. This exhibition features more than half a dozen newly created works in the series. All works in this exhibition are on loan courtesy of the artist and TrépanierBaer Gallery, Calgary.
Based in Toronto, James Carl is considered one of the city’s leading artists. His small- and large-scale sculptures are made from a wide range of materials, from cardboard to marble to venetian blinds. In the early 1990s Carl entered the art scene in Montreal by crafting expensive consumer goods (washing machines, stoves) from inexpensive materials such as found cardboard, only to place the finished sculptures back on the streets where their materials were originally retrieved. In a subsequent body of work, Carl carved replicas of disposable electronics out of marble – a traditional sculptor’s material with connotations of permanence.
Carl has exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally. The first major survey of his work, entitled do you know what, was presented at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery at the University of Toronto, the Cambridge Galleries Queen’s Square, and the MacDonald Stewart Art Centre in Guelph. Other recent shows include: jalousie at Galerie Heinz-Martin Weigand in Karlsruhe, Germany; negative spaces at Florence Loewy in Paris; plot at Vancouver’s Contemporary Art Gallery, and bottom feeder at Mercer Union in Toronto. Carl earned his MFA from Rutgers University and has degrees from McGill, the University of Victoria and the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing. His work is in public and private collections across North America and Europe. Currently, Carl is an Associate Professor of Studio Art at the University of Guelph.
General support is provided in part by the Atlantic Foundation, the Johnson Art and Education Foundation, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/ Department of State, A Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts; and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and the following Exhibition Supporters: Gordon and Lulie Gund.
Also on view this season at Grounds For Sculpture is Michael Rees: Synthetic Cells, which features colorful, inflatable volumes layered with augmented reality (on view through July 14, 2019); Masayuki Koorida: Sculpture, the first major US exhibition of work by this Japanese artist, including large-scale works in granite and marble as well as small works in stainless steel and acrylic (on view through March 17, 2019); That’s Worth Celebrating: The Life and Work of the Johnson Family, curated by Lynn DeClemente Losavio, Collection Manager of The Seward Johnson Atelier, and focused on the Johnson family’s passions, belief in the spirit of innovation and the power of community, and how the founder’s vision for The Johnson Atelier Technical Institute of Sculpture shaped GFS (on view through 2018); and newly installed in the sculpture park is a 26’ enlargement of Philadelphia artist Dina Wind’s Harp of David #1 (1985), fabricated by The Seward Johnson Atelier in partnership with the Dina Wind Art Foundation.