Etudes: at Conley Harris studio

Conley Harris, a Boston artist known for his paintings inspired by Persian landscape paintings, is organizing pop-up exhibits at his studio loft in Boston, in collaboration with the Joseph Carroll and Sons Gallery. Four sheets of small watercolors from my Etudes series, twelve of which are now in the Boston Drawing Project at the gallery, will be included. Mr.Harris has titled the exhibit:

Listed: Transparent.

when – September 23-25/2011 Reception: September 27, 6-8:00. Other hours: 1-6:00, on 9/23 and 24

where – At Conley Harris Studio, 1140 Washington St., Boston, MA, USA

My Etudes are based on sketches I do in preparation for steel or bronze  sculpture. I have sketchbooks of these visual exercises, many of which will never be built in large scale in metal. I converted about eighty of these graphite sketches to watercolors, thus conceptualizing the illusion of dimension and weight with a transparent medium. For the statement I wrote for Conley’s event…

Visual irony is a useful tool for transporting something understood to another level. Looking through my sketchbooks, there are hundreds of graphite thumbnails of sculpture ideas. These are studies I use to loosen up and to plan what my next steel or bronze sculpture may be. Many of these studies are not destined to become three-dimensional. However some have, in the Etudes series, been made to appear three-dimensional through the use of value changes using watercolor.  Some also have shadows. Each of these watercolor versions of the sculpture ideas from my sketchbooks have been given a new life. They are something else than they were.

The choice of watercolor, an inherently transparent medium, for these Etudes is ironic in view of their originally being intended as objects to be rendered in metal at a large scale. The sense of durability, solidity and permanence they would have had as sculptures has suddenly transmuted  into delicate images that are illusions of three-dimensional artworks executed  on a two dimensional surface. Are they any less real because they are transparent, and in the physical sense flat? They exist in the viewers’ minds in at least as meaningful, dimensional, and solid a way. They have been given weight of a different kind.


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