The world of art has always been a melting pot of creativity, where artists from various backgrounds weave their unique narratives through their chosen medium. One such sculptor who embarked on an unconventional odyssey of artistic exploration is Joseph Slusky. Born in PA Pennsylvania and raised in Los Angeles, Slusky's sculptural journey was profoundly influenced by his surroundings and personal experiences.
Growing up amidst the bustling automobile culture of Los Angeles, Joseph Slusky's young mind was captivated by futuristic car designs and the vibrant world of automotive colors. Little did he know that these early encounters would imprint their influence on his future sculptural works. As a student at UC Berkeley studying architecture, Slusky's path took an unexpected turn when he encountered the world of sculpture. The Art Department's vital creative community exposed him to renowned artists, sparking a desire to embrace a life dedicated to sculptural creation.
Throughout his artistic journey, Slusky found inspiration in the works of revered sculptors such as David Smith, Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore, and Alberto Giacometti, among others. These iconic figures left a profound mark on Slusky's artistic sensibility, guiding him toward the path of self-discovery and expression. Influenced by movements like Cubism, Russian Constructivism, Surrealism, and Minimalism, Slusky's creations embrace a sensibility in which everything one encounters in the visual realm is grist for absorption and sculptural transformation.
The Dialogue of Form and Space
At the core of Joseph Slusky's sculptural exploration lay a fascination with the interplay between form and space.
His artistic vocabulary encompassed both organic and industrial elements, bridging the gap between classical and baroque influences and the abstract constructs of the contemporary era. With his architectural background, Slusky approached sculpting like an artist building on a blank canvas, giving life to three-dimensional motion and spatial tricks that echoed his gymnastic past.
The Bondo Period: Transience Fossilized
A defining phase of Slusky's career was the "Bondo period," spanning over a decade from 1965 to 1975.
During this time, he began incorporating plastic filler or Bondo into his sculptures, seeking to extend their visual longevity. The metal forms, akin to fossilized imagination, took on a cohesive, metallic appearance through the use of automotive spray paint. Slusky's pieces from this period, such as "Study in White," "Dangling Yellow," and "Kaiser's Song," bore witness to his mastery in merging disparate sculpted elements into a unified whole.
A Transition of Color and Gesture
In the mid-1970s, Slusky's artistic trajectory underwent a significant transition. He bid farewell to plastic filler, embracing hand-painting as a means of articulating and infusing imagery onto his sculptures. The acrylic lacquer paints served as a substitute for Bondo, allowing him to delve into more gestural and spontaneous expression. The time spent painting his sculptures became akin to the time spent fabricating and resolving the metal structures. The synthesis of color and form remained central to Slusky's evolving body of work.
Across Continents and Artistic Horizons
The artist's sojourns in Sweden and London during the late 1960s and early 1970s left an indelible impression on Slusky's artistic psyche. In Lund, Sweden, he had access to a technical trade school's workshop, where broken farm equipment inspired pieces like "Airplane" and "Cornucopia." In London, surrounded by the vibrant art scene, Slusky encountered the works of British sculptors like Anthony Caro and Eduardo Paolozzi. These experiences expanded his creative boundaries, leading to outcomes like "Leonardo's Toy" and "Cube Squared," infused with newfound inspirations.
The Language of Sculptural Dialogue
Within Slusky's artistic oeuvre, a unique dialogue between sculptures and drawings emerged. The drawings, more immediate and direct, provided a platform for rapid idea generation, reflecting and expanding on the sculptural forms. The transference of the transient and ephemeral to the harder, more intransigent metal media continued to intrigue the artist.
Drawing served as a limbering exercise for the mind, complementing the empirical and discovery-driven nature of sculpture.
Put short, Joseph Slusky's sculptural journey is a testament to the unyielding spirit of artistic exploration. From his early fascination with futuristic car designs to the Bondo period and the subsequent transition to hand-painting, Slusky's work reveals a constant thirst for discovery and self-expression. Influenced by a myriad of artists and movements, he forged a unique artistic language that resonated with organic and industrial elements and classic and contemporary sensibilities.