Astrid Bowlby, 12.16.07 (chrysanthemums floating). Ink on paper, 2007, 11 x 11 inches. Courtesy Gallery Joe, Philadelphia.
Ben Butler, Invention #50 (detail), 2010, ink on paper. Courtesy of the artist and Coleman Burke Gallery
CLINTON, NJ.- The Hunterdon Art Museum opened an exhibition of work by four artists: Astrid Bowlby, Ben Butler, Sebastian Rug, and Christopher Skura. The show, titled Fragmented, explores how all four of the artists presented create art work that is the result of extremely labor intensive processes. The end result of the effort is art that is solid, yet fragile; if one piece or thread was moved or removed, the entire structure would collapse.
Each piece in the show is constructed of repeating parts. In some works, such as Sebastian Rug’s drawings, it is a repetition of the same or similar marks. In others, such as those by Christopher Skura, the repeating parts are the layers of drawing, rather than the marks themselves. They are all assembled piece by piece, whether drawn on paper or constructed from wood.
Astrid Bowlby grows her drawings through a slow and meticulous process. She is focused on building a surface and often it is this surface that offers to her a pattern; a pattern that she continues, until the passage of time and the darkness of the work tells her to stop. Astrid Bowlby finds her influences for drawing in disparate sources: geological patterns of growth, embroidery, knitting and weaving. Bowlby lives and works in Philadelphia, PA.
Ben Butler creates organic drawings and sculpture by allowing his process to develop incrementally. The drawings are woven together with a fluidity that allows the amorphous shape to grow into something spectacular, but not necessarily identifiable. Butler’s sculptures encompass the same process, but involve the actual work of building as he uses the smaller elements to substantiate and invigorate the final work of art. Butler lets his work reveal itself to the viewer in time, just as he lets his form reveal itself through his process. Ben Butler lives and works in Memphis, TN.
Sebastian Rug delicately constructs intertwined frameworks that appear to float on the surface. A complex combination of texture and proportion, Rug’s drawings invite the viewer in to closely examine the execution of his marks. This magnified view shows just how interlaced the complete work is and from this, the potential fragmentation can be seen readily. Although tightly bound, the slightest cut or break would seem to unravel the complicated drawing into one line, the line where Rug likely began this journey. Sebastian Rug lives and works in Leipzig, Germany.
Christopher Skura creates systems. Systems thrive or fail based on the connectedness of its parts and Skura’s work is no different. Although improvised and free at their inception, his drawings evolve into technological and biological architecture through his ability to make contrasting elements work together seamlessly. Christopher Skura takes the viewer on a behind-the-scenes voyage through a complex imaginative system of shape, theory and color. He lives and works in New York, NY.
Fragmented is an embodiment of repetition, detail and interconnectivity. These four artists share the unique obsession with creating a picture by developing an ongoing correlation between its smaller sections. Upon close inspection of the work in Fragmented, the viewer can quickly see how it would be impossible to remove just a section of the image without completely dismantling the entire work. This is where the dynamic lies: these images are strong because of their connections, but one disruption in any of these artist’s processes would leave the overall work fragmented.