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Artist Bruce Beasley gives virtual reality a physical form in a new show at the Pamela Walsh

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If you’ve ever used your finger to scribble or design in the air and wanted to capture it in solid form, you’ll find comrades in Bruce Beasley. Using virtual reality capabilities, his Auckland-based Beasley has done just that, and the resulting sculptures and collages are now on display at his Pamela Walsh Gallery in Palo Alto. I’m here.

Entitled Momentum, the exhibition consists of two recent series. The three-dimensional metal sculpture “Aiolis” and the corresponding two-dimensional collage “Olai”. Running through November 23rd, the show is a bit of a jumping-off point for galleries that typically focus on paintings, prints and works on paper.

Walsh said that a visit to Beasley’s West Oakland Studio Compound “completely blew my mind” and was the impetus for a solo exhibition at her gallery. discussing the evolution of , the philosophy behind his creative practice, and the important role of technology and innovation in his recent works, including Aeolian sculpture and Aurai collages. built.”

“Sixty years on, Bruce is still going strong, curious, and looking for new ways to express his visual language,” she added.

The venerable Beasley was one of the youngest artists at the time, aged 23, and has the distinction of having his work in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. He recently won a retrospective of his 60 years at Grounds Force Sculpture in New Jersey.

Beasley, now 83, has enjoyed a long and successful career thanks to the fact that he has always embraced change and innovation. Born in Los Angeles in 1939, he briefly attended Dartmouth College before transferring to the University of California, Berkeley. He arrived at a crucial moment when classmates like Peter Volkos were experimenting with materials and techniques, resulting in a resurgence of interest in his medium of sculpture. His early work utilized industrial waste found around Oakland warehouses, but he soon began experimenting with cast aluminum.

Believing that technology drives creativity, Beasley then explored cast acrylic sculptures created by computer-aided design (CAD). This tool has also been used to capture his movements in virtual reality software and bring the resulting geometry to life for him. Aeolis and Aurai series. He is perhaps best known for the large-scale public works constructed in polished stainless steel created in the 1970s and his 1980s. (The “Vanguard” in front of Stanford Law School is a local example).

However, the artist is quick to point out that innovation is not his main motivation. Like most sculptors, he is constantly working on fighting gravity. Specifically, how to create heavy objects that appear to be lightly floating in the air. At the heart of his work is an “emotional language of form,” working with materials, colors and textures, he said in an email interview.

The sculptures that make up the Aeolis series are inspired by Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey, but are not intended to be narrative representations of the story. Briefly, Aeolis gave Odysseus a leather bag containing all the winds except the west during his ten-year long homecoming after the Trojan War. Gallery visitors don’t need this backstory to understand or appreciate the sculptures that convey an overwhelming sense of movement. His nine sculptures of varying sizes and surface treatments (stainless steel, cast bronze, nickel-plated) are composed of lengths of metal that twist, rotate, fuse with each other, and join together to create a cohesive whole. increase. Some are vertical as the elements join and inevitably reach a vertex. Others, like Aeolis 14 (pieces are individually numbered), are in the horizontal plane. Beasley wants viewers to bring their own interpretations and ideas to his work. For me, this piece reminded me of a sprinter trying to move forward.

The light, looping gestural shapes found in Aeolis 12 look diametrically opposed to sculptures made of cast bronze, but that’s exactly what the artist hoped to achieve. Beasley said: “I use VR (virtual reality) to explore shapes because it is very spontaneous and allows me to use my physical gestures to create shapes in ways that other processes cannot. But it’s a kind of ghost world where the shapes begin, but I’d argue that sculpture moves in and out of the world we live in.”

This is a stunning installation, with white walls and gray plinths providing a neutral backdrop to the sculpture’s strong forms and forms. Displayed for the viewer to walk around, the smaller works form the path to the focal point, Aeolis 7. It’s about eight feet tall, with curved strands erupting from the base that intertwine, fill up in the middle, and just rise like victorious arms at the top. You can’t touch a smooth surface (the oil on your hands is harmful), but you somehow instinctively know what it feels like. But the sculptor feels a deep connection to both the creator and the viewer, as the sculpture is part of the same real tactile world as we are.”

In contrast to the three-dimensional works (but also part of the same VR creative process), there is a series of six collages titled Aurai. These gray and white wall pieces are the result of the artist making marks captured in his VR, then cutting them out and stitching them together on paper. After realizing the shapes and flowing movements he sought to capture, the collages were ink printed onto his Dibond (aluminum composite) panels. They are technically considered limited edition prints.

Similar to 3D collages, collages are shaped like silver ribbons, curling, climbing, twisting, turning, and sometimes joining. Beasley describes the process by which the collage was created: They are works of art that came out of a different process, and I’m glad they did.

Bruce Beasley: Momentum runs through November 23rd at the Pamela Walsh Gallery at 540 Ramona Street in Palo Alto. For more information, visit