Extent is an exhibition that examines the concept of volume in form and meaning in the sculptural works of Los Angeles artists Peter Shelton, Lisa Bartleson, Duane Paul, Joe Davidson, Lisa Soto and Nike Schroeder. These artists have developed visual language that provocatively investigates the tension between painting and object, narrative and form, and weight and weightlessness.
The measure of Extent is realized in the diverse media the artists use to consider their practices; from complex resin works, to wire, yarn and plaster pieces that are sophisticated signifiers of complex simplicity. The works resonate with investigations of space in content and context, a particular Los Angeles sensibility since the 1960s where objects weigh meaning in concert with composition. These artists are concerned with exploring the elasticity of material and its ability to convey complex meaning.
Unlike the Light & Space movement, Extent artists emphasize scope and the relationship between materiality and meaning in sculpture that exemplifies the structural integrity of signifying form. In a tradition of experimentation and discovery, Los Angeles gives these artists the encouragement and permission to explore heavily narrative compositions with sculptural form. Shelton et al share a unique perspective on space and place-making that occurs when both the narrative and physical substance contribute to the weight and/or weightless of the object.
These artists have practices that through diverse media weigh narratives of loss, identity, the meaning of memory and the awareness of the form itself. Extent puts these works in conversation to create a composition that unpacks volume, scale and weightlessness. The work tackles issues culturally relevant subjects with forms that defy weight and gravity.
Peter Shelton (b. 1951) says of his work, “I like to think of my work as a threshold between in and out, object and space, heavy and light.” These juxtapositions define the theoretical and aesthetic paradigm of Extent. Shelton has had solo exhibitions at the Whitney Museum and LACMA, among many, and is the foundational artist in the exhibition. Whether he employs heavy metal or cast fiberglass, Shelton’s sculptures sets the tone in challenging materiality to communicate multiple narratives.
Lisa Bartleson explores the cyclical nature of trauma and healing. Using pain and loss as points of departure, and the Japanese tradition of kintsugi as a exercise of restoration, Bartleson employs a visual discursive practice to examine the cracks caused by physical and/or emotional suffering, and the ghostly foundations of memory and recovery that filter, support and shift identity.
Duane Paul, an Afro-Caribbean artist trained at Parsons, creates layered, multi-hued, yet subtle organic sculptures that invoke memories and experiences and focus on "the impermanent". Paul’s narrative manifests in his practice that celebrates the past, but allows the new and now to reveal itself in a "sense of stoic stillness, serving as venerated communicative emblems of my experience with people, family, lovers, linage, and my chosen kinships.”
Joe Davidson employs the use of disparate materials, including Scotch tape, urethane foam, epoxies and plaster. His work in Extent centers on plaster works that signify the feeling of familiar objects. Like Shelton, his interest is in creating self-referential works that invite the viewer to connect to their own knowledge base of objects, forms and ideas.
Lisa Soto’s installations and sculptures embody the struggle between connections and disconnections, supporting the belief that all things, seen and unseen are essentially linked. Soto focuses on micro to macro conversations, and question the endless conflicts, the creation of artificial differences, and the establishment of borders that are manifest in her own biography as a global woman.
Nike Schroeder uses pigmented string to make abstract work that was born from a fascination for the mathematics and how to create a perfect gradient. “The quality of the hanging thread creates an invitation for the viewer to interact and is sensitive to the movement and airflow around it. It is the actual piece.”
image by Joe Davidson