Gerald Peters Gallery is pleased to announce the first solo exhibition in New York City of acclaimed artist Will Clift. Opening on April 25, Will Clift: Forms in Balance showcases a selection of more than 30 of this self-taught artist’s astonishing sculptures in wood, steel, and carbon-fiber composite that each flouts the law of gravity.
Clift’s lithe, spirited sculptures shatter presumptions about the limits of stability. Explains Clift: “My sculptures consist of intersecting parts that stand or suspend together in equilibrium. No part is extraneous, and the delicacy of this balance reveals the fine line between weight and weightlessness, motion and stillness.”
He begins each sculpture with a form or a movement that he takes note of in the world around him. “This moment of recognition is the most essential part of my process,” he says, adding, “It relies on intuition, when emotion and intellect are in balance. It’s never been something that I can push myself to find, but once it’s there, I very quickly have a sense of how it can be translated into a physical structure with its own point of equilibrium.”
Clift then works out a long series of iterations of his idea on paper. At no point does he make any numerical calculations. “When the drawing looks right to me,” he says, “I know that the finished sculpture will balance on its own.”
Starting with small skeleton-like amounts of steel rod in the most vulnerable areas of the form — generally around its joints, Clift embeds this in a second material like wood or high-density polyurethane, which establishes the general form. On top of this, like a skin, he adds one or more layers of carbon fiber composite, an extremely strong material made of pure carbon, woven into a ‘cloth’ and made rigid by a high-end epoxy. This acts like an exoskeleton for the form beneath, giving each piece tremendous strength and rigidity.
The mission of Clift’s work is “to capture the moment between breathing in and breathing out, between being grounded and taking flight,” he says. “I am aiming for the pure potential of movement that has not quite commenced, and in each of my works, I hope that the balance between movement and stillness evokes both a sense of harmony, playfulness and wonder.”
ABOUT THE ARTIST:
Born in New Mexico in 1978, Clift early on showed a propensity for sculpting, started at age 4 with a set of wooden blocks. “I would assemble then into towers that stood as high as I could reach, creating cantilevered structures that pushed the limits of stability and would inevitably come crashing down. Ever since, I’ve never stopped making sculpture.”
During high school, Clift’s constructions took the form of unusual sculptural furniture, with function taking the backseat to form. “That was a problem,” admits Clift, “since clients expected coffee tables that could support books and chairs that you could sit in. But the sculptures I continued to make for my own enjoyment carried no such practical requirements.”
One day, Clift’s high school physics teacher challenged the class to make an object that “balances but looks like it shouldn’t.” Clift rummaged through his box of wood scraps, pulled out three pieces, chiseled two rough holes, and formed a self-supporting structure that stood on one small foot. Clift attributes this creation as the seed out of which all his subsequent work has followed.
In 1998 Clift entered Stanford University, where he studied nearly everything but art—from engineering to philosophy to psychology—all the while continuing to make sculpture in his spare time. A gallery in Santa Fe began showing his work while he was still an undergraduate, and he had his first solo exhibition a few months after finishing his master’s, also at Stanford.
Following graduation, Clift moved to Colorado for a job at a think tank, but quickly realized that he could no longer ignore the path he had embarked upon long ago as a young boy with blocks. “I decided to focus on sculpture full-time, promising myself to give it six months before I gave in to fears of making a living,” he says.
Now, eight years later, Clift has laid that anxiety permanently to rest, with numerous solo shows all around the United States and internationally. Large-scale works by Clift grace renowned hotels in Denver and Miami, and office buildings in New Mexico, Washington, D.C., Hong Kong, Germany and Taipei.
Will Clift will be present at the opening reception for Forms in Balance on Friday, April 25, 2014, at 24 East 78th Street, from 6-9 PM. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 10 AM to 5 PM. The exhibition continues through May 23. A catalog will be available for purchase.
View additional works on: www.gpgallery.com and www.willclift.com