DARKNESS AND LIGHT
I am very excited about my next show, Darkness and Light which will take place from February 1 to February 22 at the interesting Modernformations Gallery, 4919 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15224 in Garfield. The opening reception on February 1st from 7 to 10 PM will be part of the first Friday gallery crawl, Unblurred. Here is a portion of my press release for the exhibit:
for immediate release
DARKNESS and LIGHT drawings by Richard Claraval
explores philosophy outside the box.
We all know that for a large portion of humanity the world is a dangerous, unjust and largely painful place. What are the overarching causes of this and what factors tend to ameliorate it? What are our best weapons against human suffering? Is the concept of “evil” based in fact, or is it a human invention that has been used for millennia as a justification for almost every form of injustice? These and other provocative questions will be explored in the dualistic exhibition of charcoal drawings titled “Darkness and Light” by Richard Claraval at Modernformations Gallery in Pittsburgh.
The back room of the Gallery, with it’s hues of deep red and purple, will be filled with drawings that explore the destructive forces of the world: greed, nationalism, the great disparity between the haves and have-nots, religion; the “Dark”. While the white cube front room will contain images of the “Light” or positive forces: science, education, independent thinking, tolerance. Many of the pieces use mythology as a vehicle for Claraval’s ideas. Prometheus Unbound, for example, deals with the terribly retarding effect religion has had on human progress.
This Greek Titan, emblematic of everything positive about the human race: creativity, intelligence, the quest for scientific knowledge, is depicted bursting free from his rocky prison which, in this drawing, is comprised of the symbols of the three largest religions: Christian Cross, Jewish Star of David and Muslim Sickle Moon and Star. Another piece uses the monster Medusa as a representation of greed, with each of the ten snakes writhing from her head carrying the symbols of the ten largest corporations in the world.
“Darkness and Light” will run from February 1 through February 22 at Modernformations Gallery, 4919 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15224. There will be an opening reception on Friday, February 1st, from 7 to 10PM, with beverages and food. The event is part of Unblurred.
For more information or to set up an appointment: email@example.com
or Mr. Claraval:
412 441 0194
Everyone is invited!!
“RISE” RISES IN TENNESSEE
I am very happy to announce that my 4 piece styrafoam sculpture, “Rise” is now installed in the Germantown, Tennessee City Hall. It looks great there. It is a large, attractive space with a 28 foot ceiling, and huge windows; exactly what the piece needs. We painted the lines that hold the piece black rendering them virtually invisible. This makes the piece look extraordinary; seeming to truly defy gravity.
The sculpture was inspired by the great poem, “Still I Rise”, by Maya Angelou. And, although it definitely refers to the theme of black people overcoming slavery, as does Ms. Angelou’s poem, it also relates to the overcoming of any type of injustice. This means a great deal to me as someone who has struggled long and hard to overcome an abusive childhood.
The piece will remain there until August, 2013. The city has the option to by it and this would be wonderful. It’s every sculptors dream to have a piece permanently placed in a beautiful space.
SPINNING PLATE GALLERY
SECOND SATURDAY AT THE SPINNING PLATE provides a gallery experience in the middle of the month. Each opening includes a performance selected from a wide range of genres: from Classical music, to traditional Folk, to poetry, Tableau Vivant and performance art. All SECOND SATURDAY’S at the SPINNING PLATE begin at SEVEN PM with performances starting at about 8PM. With exhibitions and performances already booked through August of 2013, some of Pittsburgh’s best artists are scheduled, including award winners Gary Jurysta, Tom Cuomo, and Richard Claraval and nationally exhibited and collected Mia Tarducci Henry. The Spinning Plate Gallery is one of the most beautiful and spacious in Pittsburgh, with large windows on three sides. It is located at 5720 Friendship Ave., in Shadyside, one block from Whole Foods. 15206
412 441 0194
I am very happy to announce that my sculpture entitled, “Faun” has won the Shoen Family Juror’s Award at this years one hundredth anniversary of the Associated Artists Annual Exhibition at the Carnegie Museum of Art, and has been purchased by The Friends of Art, for the Pittsburgh Public School System.
I am very pleased that the above compressed charcoal drawing, “Pollock Not Paintings”, has won a juror’s award at the Associated Artists Exhibit titled, Void, Absence, Empty, held this March (2012) at Panza Gallery. Much thanks to Graham Shearing juror for the show.
Richard Claraval 4/2012
I am very romantic. I am interested in expressing passion, joy, excitement, power, sadness and all the emotions humans experience, and also in incorporating ideas in which to ground them. All of my work is inspired by classical music, especially very emotional composers such as Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich and many, many more. At 18, when I first heard the 4th movement of Beethoven’s Ninth symphony it was an epiphany. I felt as if I had always known that something like this must exist in the world — and there it was. It felt like the purest most direct expression of the human spirit one could imagine. It has been a continuous inspiration.
The human figure, in that it is ourselves, has tremendous potential for expressing these passions, and my combining of the realistic human figure with abstract forms goes way back to some very early experiences. As a six year old I was enthralled by the mellifluous, ebon Zorro flitting across rooftops on moonlit nights. Later I loved playing football. I was small, quick and had an excellent imagination for creating “moves” (ways of rhythmically moving your body to misdirect the potential tackler). These moves have a very strong relation to dance, and, although, during the actual game, one has to decide on them in an instant, I would frequently daydream about them before falling asleep, or in school; inventing new ones and combining old. When imagining these moves one is visualizing three dimensional shapes combined with the human figure, and I have never lost my fascination with this.
At about the same age I was also a fan of comic books and had a similar inspiration from them. I was enthralled by the dynamism of these figures and the emotional intensity they could express, in spite of their sometimes shaky anatomy. The characters who could in some way “fly” were of particular interest. Again they inscribed beautiful forms in space that where derive from their poses.
A bit later I discovered Michelangelo and found a relationship to this idea in the floating or perhaps flying figures of The Last Judgment. And seeing the astonishing range of expressive power that can be achieved with the human figure in this work blew the top of my head right off.
In college I became a fan of Abstract Expressionism and realized that the gestures in these paintings related to my visualizations of the human figure moving through space. Both have strongly to do with the kinesthetic sense. The idea of combining these with the figure is finally where these drawings come from.
Richard Claraval, 4/2012
My process is about half preconceived and half spontaneous. I start with an inspiration for a dynamic figure in space, either derived from my imagination or occasionally from Michelangelo’s paintings in the Sistine Chapel. I lightly sketch the figure with good proportions and anatomy on the page in a place that gives room for the abstract gesture. Then I begin to add gesture lightly, either with charcoal or by rubbing with a soft cloth. Almost all of the gestural lines begin in the figure and flow out into the page. I always have a feeling as to the main directional flows of the figure and how my gestures will relate rhythmically to them. Then I work back and forth between the two elements adding darker and stronger elements. I constantly pull back both physically and mentally, observe objectively what I have done, and responding to it.
I try to never limit myself arbitrarily and add any elements my imagination conceives that do not either destroy the piece’s integrity, or go completely away from my fundamental direction. The best example of this is Micheljackson 27, where I added a manacle and chains. These fit very well both thematically and esthetically.
Deciding when a piece is finished is difficult for most artists and for me a funny sort of thing. I almost always reach a point where the piece “seems” to be done, and frequently I will just go ahead and sign it. But, then, I will always leave the piece up where I can see it, and, with few exceptions, I will see perhaps several things that can be improved. After making the changes or additions the result is almost always an improve work, sometimes radically better.
Richard Claraval’s sculptures and drawings, have been exhibited in solo and group shows throughout the Pittsburgh area. At the One Hundredth Associated Artist’s Annual Exhibition, at the Carnegie Museum of Art in 2010, he won a Juror’s Award, and a Purchase Award. He has had two solo installations at The Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, and was featured in two exhibitions in conjunction with the International Sculpture Conference in 2000. Mr. Claraval has a sculpture in the collection of the Westinghouse Corporation, and won the Juror’s Award for a drawing in a group exhibit at Studio Z Gallery in 1997. He received a bachelors degree in Art from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, in 1977
Selected Quotes From Reviews
From experience, I know I love art that makes a brilliant statement in a startlingly original way. I found that in Richard Claraval’s Faun. Unique in form, it touches on Greek classicism, Vaslav Nijinsky’s L’Apres-midi d’un Faune – joined with the unexpected wonders of styrafoam and spackle.
Donald Miller, Juror’s Statement, Associated Artists of Pittsburgh 100th Annual Exhibition Catalog
“(Claraval’s) human figures …swirl and swoop, rise and fall in a dance all their own. But just as soon as one is swept up in this dance, one is jarred from it. As engaging as one of his graceful figures might be, no sooner do you turn around from looking at one than you are confronted with another figure coming from yet another unexpected angle. It’s unnerving yet un abashedly fun…”
Kurt Shaw, Review of “Le Joie De Vivre”, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Feb. 1, 2004
“Claraval’s sculptures look so massive that it took me a moment to realize that they were in fact floating free in the air…”
…Claraval’s anti-caryatids hang from the ceiling: painstakingly rendered, near-life-sized collarbone-to-calf figures that flow into existence out of sensuously curving Styrafoam pillars, the bases subtely hovering just inches above the ground.”
Stephen H. Segal, “Anne’s Song”, (review of Anti-caryatidean”) In Pittsburgh Weekly, May 2000”
“It’s pretty amazing what kinds of textures Claraval get out of something as bland as Styrafoam. Sometimes it’s chunky and thick, like in “Rise”; other times it’s thin and airy, like in the “Caryatid” series. The textures are enticing enough to warrant a touch or two.”
Dave madden, “Human Plus”, “In Pittsburgh Weekly”, November, 1999