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Surface Treatment: Sun and Steel

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Posted: Monday, October 1, 2012 4:36 pm

What:     Solar Fusion, Exhibit by Brian Wedgworth

Where:     Serena Pandos Studio Gallery, Art Village, 800 Main St., Suite 410

When:    Through October 20; Monday-Saturday, 12–5 pm, and Art Walk from 6 pm to 9 pm

Contact:    (956) 607-7010

On the street-side entrance to the Serena Pandos Studio Gallery, Brian Wedgworth’s “Sun Gazer’” sculpture greets visitors attending his exhibit, Solar Fusion.  A tall welded steel work; it is the perfect visual introduction to the exhibition. Solar Fusion includes works that were shown at the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Tamaulipas earlier this year.

Wedgworth creates sculptures in a form-inventing aesthetic recalling the post-war abstract art movement of the mid 20th century. At that time, a shift in western art expression took place as artists adjusted to the destruction and aftermath of WWll.  And perhaps this is what makes Wedgworth’s sculpture intriguing now. Are we undergoing another social shift? Is Wedgworth’s search for new forms to be constructed from among the debris of scrap yards speaking to us in that same way? He is reconstructing order from destruction. Maybe we need that.

While still using the circle as an archetypal shape, these new works are moving slowly beyond Wedgworth’s earlier sculptures. His concerns are the same; he is forever a Modernist who is inspired by the steel shapes that he discovers in scrap yards, but his perceptions of the final form display an increased aesthetic closure.

The scale of works in this exhibit is also notable. From the large outdoor piece, the exhibit includes large freestanding and table pieces to small hand-sized wall groupings.

The title piece, “Solar Fusion,” features a tortured, yet well organized, form spanning two posts. “Solar fusion, think of an exploding star or cosmic event,” mused Wedgworth. “Metal exploding and going in different directions, and trying to harness the energy, which isn’t possible, but the thought of it….” At which point the artist trails off into his own thought. A small rounded sun symbol rests in the center of this piece, shaking off unruly metal. This is also a metaphorical nod to the welding process.  It is the fiery arc between metal electrodes frozen in metal.

 “Solar Flare,” also captures this metaphor. The spanned shape connects the poles through carefully arched shapes, referencing the spikes occurring in actual solar flares. The sun symbol dominates the sinuous flow.

Groups of intimate wall pieces are interesting in the variety of visual thought as well as technical execution. Wedgworth described their parts as “drops” from friend and fellow sculptor, Richard Hyslin.  In one piece, “Cosmic Event,” bulbous forms are welded to a round base, while steel rods project furtively from the decorative welded seams. The overt use of welded lines is often found as a visual element in Wedgworth’s sculptures in order to show the “hand of the artist.”

In a recent KMBH interview, Wedgworth empathetically stated: “I don’t have any children, and these are my children. They are my creations, things that I build.”

Nancy Moyer, Professor Emerita of Art from UTPA, is an art critic for The Monitor. She may be reached at nmoyer@rgv.rr.com

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