57 x 50 x 8 in (144.78 x 127 x 20.32 cm)
"Somewhere In Time", 2017
36 x 27 x 4.50 in (91.44 x 68.58 x 11.43 cm)
33 x 13 x 16 in (83.82 x 33.02 x 40.64 cm)
80 x 28 x 18 in (203.20 x 71.12 x 45.72 cm)
When Craig French says "My primary aim is to push materials to their limits", we might well wonder who is speaking, the star athlete who used to push his body to its limits in football and track or the sculptor who now forces the bodily stuff of his art to such extremes that stone and metal lose their inertness and take on the dynamics of motion.
Sculpture in general puts the artist's body as well as his material to the test, but the shapes French fashions seems especially to issue from a physical and material ordeal. My work involves a great deal of hard work, he says, yet that's the beauty of it, the laboring, the physical struggle with materials that resist and sometimes defeat your efforts. It can be a humbling experience.
Defeat is no stranger to athletes, either. Yet in both fields, the contest gives rise to elevating experiences as well, and French's struggle with his art had yielded him more than his share of these, as viewers at his exhibitions in Japan, West Germany, Australia, and the United States can attest. Collectors there and elsewhere have been taken with the improvisational character of many of his pieces, which at first glance give an appearance of bricolage or playful amalgamation but which on further study reveal an exacting technical mastery of the affinities among diverse materials and shapes. Indeed, shape and substance are so intimately bound in French's work that it is hard to say which begets which. We are left feeling a bit like the poet Yeats wondering How can we tell the dancer from the dance?
Citing Yeats is appropriate here because French himself feels that his art issues from a love of beauty and rhythm, which I associate, with the flow of poetry. Flow seems indispensable to any discussion of his work. In his hands the stationary stuff he begins with metamorphoses into sinuous loops and bends, whorls and swirls, and on occasion something rather like those spiraling cones that Yeats called gyres. Whatever we can or cannot say about Yeats,' dancer and the dance, we can tell in French's work that in piece after piece, in ever-varying ways, the artist somehow discovers and forces us to register the mutually illumination interaction of shapes and substances.
This is especially true of his multidimensional studies. In their recessions and foregrounding, he reveals an astonishing gift for exploring the uniqueness of angle and curve caught, as it were, in the act of forging alliances among the otherwise alien materials that compose them and that they compose. Viewers of such compositions will surely agree that here, in the unlikely solidities of wood and resin, neon, glass alloys and synthetics, French has truly discovered beauty and rhythm and the flow of poetry.
Craig French is a pop-Constructivist sculptor, whose brilliant, lyrical wall pieces have gained an international audience. Cast resins, acrylics, sheet metals, rare woods, and glass are laboriously cut, lathed, and polished into fanciful shapes - then joined and intertwined into arresting color-texture combinations.
The works conjure a multitude of Southern California moods and attitudes. From the freewheeling zest of beach boys to the contemplative aura of Asian meditation, each work speaks to a paradigm particularly rooted in the Pacific Rim. These multi-media works rest, dance, play, spin, and sing to create an abstract language inflected by many accents. Yet they all are unified by overarching themes of aesthetic optimism, joy, and a duty to fine craftsmanship.
French is in the line of the pioneering Russian Constructivists of the early 20th century who sought to elevate the abstract language of machine-age forms into art works of deep social and spiritual significance. Within their output were the first abstract walls sculptures know to Modern art. Picasso, too, would take up the mode - though more playfully - further blurring the boundary between painting and sculpture. French?s most contemporary predecessor in the field of abstract wall sculpture is the great Frank Stella whose wall works routinely fetch six figures and are found in major museums around the world.
Shaw Gallery is both thrilled and honored to exclusively represent Craig French?s wall sculpture on the East Coast of the United States.
SELECTED CORPORATE COLLECTIONS
Boeing North America, Anaheim, CA Hughes Aircraft Naval Systems, Fullerton, CA Hyatt Hotel, La Jolla, CA Interlinea Italia, Puglia, Italy Pfizer, Inc., Irvine, CA Safeco Insurance Co., Fountain Valley & Glendale, CA Sheraton Grande Torrey Pines Hotel, La Jolla, CA USSO Museum, Tokyo, Japan Wellness Center, Saarbrucken, Germany
Irvine Museum of Fine Art, The Golden Land: Then & Now Dierlich Gallery, Recent Works, Bonn, Germany Harajuku Art Festival, Japan La Foret Museum, American Pop Culture, Tokyo, Japan Museum of Neon Art, Captive Light, Los Angeles, CA Mt San Jacinto College, Recent Works, CA University of California Fine Arts Gallery, Group Exhibition, Irvine, CA University of New South Wales, Selected Honors Sculpture Exhibition, Sydney, Australia