Gallery Installation  Petersen Art Museum

Gallery Installation
Petersen Art Museum

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Tim Ebner, Gallery Director; California State University Los Angeles

January 7 – 28, 2006

Essay by Susan Joyce

Wayne Shimabukuro has been taking photographic portraits of Los Angeles artists since 1980.  Gwynn Murrill has been one of his subjects, now the two artists and their work unite for this exhibition where they share a common ground in the pairing of sculpture and photography.  Shimabukuro captures the essence of the artist in his portrait work and Murrill captures the spirit of the animal with her contemporary sculptures.  In this body of work Shimabukuro turns his camera on the sculptures and documents the process of making the work in studio.  For over three decades both artists have focused their practice in areas that necessarily don’t follow the current trends of the art world; each is a master at their craft.

Both artists approach their work using an intuitive process.  Murrill expresses her observations of nature creating contemporary representations; each sculpture is as unique as the animal itself.  Just as the sculptures have a minimalist quality so do the photographic images by Shimabukuro.  Still, yet in motion, raw energy and materials come together in sequenced action photographs that give the illusion of film.  The joining of these two forces conveys the essence of poetry in motion, shaping and refining the work.

Capturing live action moments at the studio Shimabukuro shows the viewer how the sculptures by Murrill came to be.  This collection of photographs is a narrative of the process that offers a unique perspective to the work.  The sculptural shapes of the pieces, iridescent colors of molten liquid bronze, become abstract compositions.  The sculptures and maquettes made of bronze and marble of running Saluki dogs, cougars lounging by a pond, and Elmo, a life size portrait of Murrill’s pet dog are presented along with the photographs by Shimabukuro, creating a quiet and reflective environment.  Usually shown outside where the sculptures seamlessly integrate with the location, here they are placed inside with controlled lighting offer an intimate experience and understanding for the viewer.

The collaboration by these artists for this 2D-3D exhibition in the Fine Arts Gallery at California State University Los Angeles brings together two distinctly individual bodies of work.  In the process both inform each other’s work.  Murrill and Shimabukuro expand upon the relationship between their work, opening up new possibilities for interpretation.

BODY LANGUAGE, curated by Trevor Norris, includes work from this portfolio at the Frank M. Doyle Arts Pavilion, Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa, CA; September 2 – October 11, 2012.

Curator’s Statement: It’s a winter in the late 1950’s. A precocious young art student (my first painting instructor) is sitting in a train station waiting room, somewhere in the south of France as Picasso walks in and sits directly across from him. The young art student immediately draws a portrait of Picasso on a napkin, goes over and hands it to him. Picasso then returns the favor.

The artists exhibiting in ‘Body Language’ share a similar passion for the human body and the spirit within. They also have high regard for each other’s person and work and to express this admiration, many have produced portraits of the other artists in ‘Body Language’ and then exchanged the results. Some have used the same model and others have collaborated in pairs on a single work. Entrusting an artwork to another artist is the highest compliment one can give to the other; a high compliment indeed in any language.

Trevor Norris, curator.

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