Deconstructing the Oval

Deconstructing the Oval

For me, the oval has always been the most pleasing form from which to embark on a sculptural exploration. As opposed to the circle, an oval’s elongated shape allows for greater flexibility in removing mass while staying true to the lines of the exterior, so the negative space remains complimentary to the whole. I also like the way the oval’s curves bend light both inside and out.

For Barbara Hepworth, the pioneering British Sculptor most identified with elliptical shapes, the oval provided “sufficient field for exploration to last a lifetime.” While Hepworth’s surface treatments are often textured, and she sometimes used incision to convey personal iconography, I feel the oval is most effective if all carving is resolved with smooth finishes. In this way the interplay of light on both interior and exterior surfaces creates shadows that echo and enhance the oval’s fundamental curves.

Over the years, I have carved dozens of these oval sculptures. Calling them Oval Edge Forms, I have tried to create conditions where negative space becomes such an integral part of the form that the oval — in its essential elliptical configuration — is sensed by what is missing.

All the sculptures were carved from a solid three-dimensional polystyrene oval form. Some “egg-like,” some almost as thick as they are wide, and others elongated and tapered. My intention was always to convey the harmony of the original elliptical shape while offering added layers of visual interest through what has been removed.

The sculptures shown above are actually primed maquettes. Carved from polystyrene, they are covered with polymer, and refined with automobile compound for limited edition casting in metal. Recently, however, as shown below, I have finished some of them with metallic auto paint, to be offered for sale as one-of-a-kind works of art through Graham Shay 1857 a fine art gallery in New York where a selection of these unique polymers, along with a couple of limited-edition bronze castings, will be exhibited from August 30 – September 30, 2023.