oval edge forms

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 a 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.

In this latest series of sculptures, called “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.  Each of the sculptures has been carved after first starting with a solid three-dimensional oval form.  Some were “egg-like,” some almost as thick as they were wide, and others elongated and tapered.  My intention was to convey the harmony of the original elliptical shape while offering added layers of visual interest through what has been removed.

The sculptures shown are all carved from polystyrene, covered with polymer and painted with automobile finishes. Although my normal practice had been to use this approach to ensure highly refined molds for limited edition casting in metal, I am so pleased with the way these pieces have turned out I have decided to offer them for sale as one-of-a-kind works of art.  Each sculpture in the series is detailed below. Like Hepworth, my involvement with the oval will be continuing.                                               

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Cornelia Kubler Kavanagh
October 2017


I recently painted Oval Edge Form VII light metallic gold to illustrate what is possible to achieve in polymer at about a third of the cost of a painted metal casting.

deconstructing the oval art