Courtesy John Natsoulas Gallery, Davis, CA
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Arthur Gonzalez is an internationally exhibiting artist with over fifty one-person shows in the last forty years, including eight in Manhattan, New York. He has received many awards including the Virginia Groot Foundation twice and is an unprecedented four-time recipient of the National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship within a ten-year period. He is also in numerous public collections including the Museum of Modern Ceramic Art in Gifu, Japan, the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, the Oakland Museum of California and also the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento. He is a tenured Professor at the California College of the Arts (formerly CCAC). Gonzalez has been an artist-in-residence in many places including University of Georgia, Athens, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Penland School of Craft, North Carolina, University of Akron in Ohio, Tainan National University in Taiwan, Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle, Washington, and the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana
Identity as a Concept
When I see the word “Identity” in art, I sarcastically think “It’s about time!” I say that because the history of art is the history of identity. The concept of identity in art is the conscious attempt to make visual work that when viewed, illustrates aspects of the artist who made it. This may be a cultural identity, but it may also be an identity that is adopted through experiences from one’s personal journey. This can be objective or subjective, overt or covert, conscious or unconscious.
The alternative to identity is to make art that comments on academic issues only; issues of composition, color, structure, visual weight and the illusion of space; holding Identity at an arm’s length. Another approach is the objective observation of the world around us through different points of view; where the artist plays the role of the commentator, the artist as the “voyeur of the world” instead of a character within it. Are we not all voyeurs when we look at art, read a book or watch a movie? With this in mind, the three pieces that I brought to this exhibition are all aspects of self-reflection and opinion.
Both “The History of Ego” and “Good Thief, Bad Thief” are from “The Cadence of Stupidity” Series. This is a kind of Baroque imagined sequel to the original Pinocchio Adventures by Carlo Collodi of the late 19th Century. The original tale is more of a male/female relationship between the Blue Haired Fairy and Pinocchio and not so much of a father/son relationship between Geppetto and Pinocchio. “The History of Ego” we see a Salome/John the Baptist reference where the specter of ego comes to play in the confusing dynamics between two people in relationship. “Good Thief, Bad Thief” is a play on the well-used symmetrical Renaissance composition of Jesus on the wood cross, except that in this case Pinocchio is pretending to actually be a wood tree (his flesh and blood). He clutches in one hand a bird while in the other hand a bird can fly free and Pinocchio himself is the fulcrum. These are layered ideas of our various attempts to hold onto control and power. And in “The Short History of the World” from “A Question of Balance” series, the archetypal little girl of knowledge has one hand in the wound of the inner ear (doubting Thomas reference) and in the other hand she tests the heat of passion as she is tethered to an eviscerated world: passion versus fear.
Good Thief, Bad Thief
Mid-fire red sculpture clay, reduction glaze, oil & enamel paint, wood, blown glass, mirror, copper pennies
57" x 47" x 12"
A Short History of the World
Ceramic, paperback, mirrors, rope, tortoise shell
30” x 45” x 12”
History of Ego
Ceramic, wood cigar
40” x 14” x 11”