"Peter Shelton: powerhousefrenchtableecklaces," April 5 - 28, 2012, Sperone Westwater Gallery, New York
New York, NY: 17 March 2012: Sperone Westwater is pleased to present a survey of sculptures by Peter Shelton. These corporeal and architectural works from 1989 to the present are both abstract and referential. Their materiality and subject matter elicit a physical, emotional, and psychic engagement – making the visual experience tactile and tangible.
In powerhousefrenchtablenecklaces (1994 - 2012), spatial tension is created by precariously balancing a bronze model of an uprooted and upended 19th-century powerhouse on a small French table. Water runs slowly over a massive cluster of necklaces gathered around the building’s smokestack. Made variously of bronze, water, copper, and wood, additional works from the series thingsgetwet (1989 - 1994) are included. In boots (1989), Shelton animates ordinary objects (his work boots) by filling and overflowing their interiors with water. In pagodawindowskull (1993), water drips from the finial of a hanging inverted model of the Ishiyama-dera pagoda into the trepanned opening of an ancient Peruvian skull. Throughout Shelton’s work, water evokes all its possible associations from bodily fluids to gravity and time. To Shelton, water can be entropic and erosive, vivifying and ameliorative, animating and abstracting. It can connect the disparate and soften the hard.
Three large-scale, bubble-like sculptures, appointed by various openings that protrude from the wall, are installed in the gallery’s Moving Room. Alternately anatomical and industrial, these works have hydraulic and pneumatic associations. The bulbous form, bigfrenchvent (2003 - 2012), appears to have a coarse and graphic exterior, but smooth lips draw attention to its interior surfaces. Skin and surface are important in Shelton’s work as he explains: I try to think of materials as not just a surface or treatment, but part in parcel to what the work is. Sometimes, of course, it’s a skin, so it’s very much about that surface. However, I like to think it’s like the skin that contains us again and so it’s not like something that’s applied and arbitrary, but very much a part of what gives us definition.
Born in 1951, Shelton lives and works in Los Angeles. His work has been exhibited extensively, and he has had solo museum exhibitions at the Henry Moore Sculpture Trust, Halifax, England; the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX; University of California Berkeley; and the Madison Arts Center. Recent group shows were held at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, University of California; Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami; the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain; San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and Centre Pompidou, Paris, France. Shelton’s work is represented in numerous institutional collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Walker Art Center; the Getty Museum; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX.