Sculptures and Paintings 2016-2023
Still-full-ness is a selection of recent works by the artist Gerald Wolfe, which brings together wood/concrete freestanding sculptures, plaster wall sculptures, and mixed media paintings.
The key to Wolfe's work is an idea of a "still-life," not as a genre of painting but as subject matter, specifically the investigation of stillness itself.
Historically, a still-life painting is rarely what it seems, whether it's the mountain of freshly caught fish in some endlessly unfolding Flemish canvas, whether it's Morandi's bottles clustered together on the tabletop, or whether it's chiseled apples of Cezanne, or fragmented violins in Cubist collages; the still-life is less about the objects depicted and is more a form of a conceptual, symbolic landscape. The still-life provides a familiar topic to study the act of seeing.
His assemblage of various everyday objects, brought together by the artist's curiosity, anchored in the space, and worked on in plaster, cement, and paint until what is distilled is an actual stillness, weighted material presence. The free-standing and wall-mounted sculptures in this exhibit are subtle inversions of a still-life; they are “stilled life,” beings full of stillness. Their scale-less quality allows them to enact the role of some archaic domesticity.
In his paintings, Wolfe continues working in layers, navigating through several modes of representation: applied texture, fading, flat industrial paint, and geometric patterns of reverse perspective. Some paintings start to fold and twist from the vertical plain, serving as a visual link to plaster wall sculptures. Arrested motion and weighted-down time are made explicit within the tension between the layers.
One sculpture that captures the humor and seriousness of Wolfe's work is "All Talk" (2022). The plaster box-like shapes are stacked over wood board topped with a rounded form. Upon closer inspection, the shape reveals to be an inflatable "thought bubble" balloon, cast and coated in plaster. As a result, the sculpture contemplates brevity, levity, and heaviness, and it reveals a transformation that the everyday object underwent to be absorbed into the composition to become a "concrete thought bubble." A thought, so fleeting and quick and barely tangible, becomes imbued with heaviness, gravity, and weight.
Grigori Fateyev, RA
I approach all my work intuitively. Over time, I have incorporated such materials as concrete, plaster, cardboard tubes, wood lath, wood filler, and latex primer. In the earliest of my more recent pieces, dating from around 2016, I primarily used wood lath that was taken from behind old plaster walls and plaster. In making them, I tried to retain the character of the old wood throughout the process. In addition, I have also incorporated sign paint. In my work, I create simply shaped objects that might vaguely represent a particular thing or be considered purely abstract. I feel that the piece has energy and strength, seemingly possessing a somewhat unknown history. I want all my work to have a mystery and presence about them, that they are more than what you see. I feel that the object is complete when there is a simplicity and balance realized through shadows, lines, and space it establishes.
Gerald Wolfe, after receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Maryland in 1972, discovered his interest in art and went on to study fine arts at the School of Visual Arts in NYC. In the summer of 1974, he also studied at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine.
At SVA, he studied a mostly traditional academic program, including courses in drawing anatomy, color theory, and figure painting. After graduating with a BFA in 1975, he moved to Lower Manhattan. In a short time, his direction in art changed from a traditional academic approach to a more abstract way of thinking. From his very beginnings until this day, he approaches his work intuitively, often incorporating untraditional and sometimes found materials. Since 1979, when he was in his first show, a summer invitational at OK Harris Gallery, he has shown his work consistently in New York City, including several one-person shows at OK Harris Gallery and Kim Foster Gallery. In addition, he has had solo exhibits at the Paterson Museum in Paterson, New Jersey, and at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton.
He is currently based in Lower Manhattan, as well as, maintaining a studio in Columbia County, New York.
University of Maryland, B.A.
Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture
School of Visual Arts, New York, B.F.