Previously on 8 February 2024

Wendell Castle & Roger Herman Exhibition Opening Drinks

Cocktail Reception, 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Free admission for Patrons

Ladbroke Hall and Carpenters Workshop Gallery invite our Patrons to the opening of Wendell Castle: Suspended Disbelief & Roger Herman: From California with Love. Join us for a cocktail reception in the gallery from 6:00 pm.

Wendell Castle – Suspended Disbelief

In Suspended Disbelief, a new exhibition from Carpenters Workshop Gallery, Wendell Castle – revered as the founding father of the American crafts movement – seamlessly intertwines sculpture and design, forging a unique discipline that continues to challenge the boundaries of artistic creation.

At the heart of this exhibition lies an exploration of Castle’s transformative career, tracing his journey from the early years of experimentation to his pioneering later wood works. The exhibition also highlights Castle’s explorations from 2005 to 2018, a period where he returned to bio-morphism, his signature style of the 1960s and 1970s. Pieces like Night on Earth (2008) exemplify this phase, incorporating steel, bronze and nickel. This later stage marked Castle’s foray into digital methods, including 3D modelling and scanning, as well as laser cutting, showcasing his adaptability and continued innovation.

Key works within the exhibition include Keeping Promises (2012), an anthropomorphic work that invites the viewer to take a seat in its cave-like cocoon; Suspended Disbelief (2015) presents a gravity-defying structure, a dewy, marbled base is supported by finger-like pillars; and Hope (2013), a textural structure that’s been meticulously crafted from stained ash into sensuous curves, reminiscent of tree trunks and lily pads.

Known as one of the first artists to blur the line between art and design, each piece demonstrates Castle’s distinctive and organic approach to sculpture, notably his groundbreaking technique of carving into stacked wood, known as lamination. This innovative method begins with large wooden blocks meticulously glued and clamped together, only to be skilfully carved into functional sculptural pieces of collectible design. The resulting creations vary in composition, from bulbous to sinewy and serpentine, yet consistently maintain a delicate balance that is a hallmark of Castle’s artistic vision. His investigation into different shapes is not only a testament to his technical prowess but also imbues his pieces with a playful and imaginative quality, therein challenging traditional furniture-making norms and establishing Castle as a visionary in the field.

Castle’s taste for innovation emerged during his study of sculpture and industrial design at the University of Kansas in the late-1950s. Utilising walnut sourced from a nearby factory, he laid the groundwork for his organic approach to design, inspired by contemporaries like Finn Juhl and Carlo Mollino. Castle’s artistic journey, from the gravity-defying structures of the 1960s to the later exploration of classical forms and experimentation with trompe l’oeil, reflects a consistent commitment to pushing artistic boundaries. The exhibition presents a unique opportunity to witness the evolution of Castle’s work, showcasing his mastery of materials from wood to fibreglass, and culminating his use of digital methods in his later years.

Roger Herman – From California with Love

Featuring recent works by Los Angeles-based multidisciplinary artist Roger Herman, this new body of work explores the multi-facetted approach of Herman throughout his artistic practice, and how he seamlessly intertwines ceramics and painting to unveil a riotous gathering of colour, texture, material and form.

At the core of the exhibition are fifteen large, crafted ceramics, sculpted from wheel-thrown clay and by hand. These works transcend traditional ceramic design techniques with their irregular shapes, spontaneous voids and protrusions which are ignited by Herman’s fascination with the transformative power of colour during the glazing process – a theme he has passionately explored since the late-1990s. Evoking a unique and unpredictable painterly expression that celebrates imperfection, spontaneity and intuition, each piece is marked by an approach that treats clay as a blank canvas, allowing brush strokes, dashes and lines to build texture and colour in unforeseen ways.

Complementing the ceramics are six large-scale canvases that echo the gestural and spontaneous vibrancy found in their ceramic counterparts. These paintings, alongside the ceramics, share a cohesive space within the gallery, illustrating Herman’s instinctive artistic methods developed through his experimental work with clay, kilns and glazes.

Adorning the walls of the gallery are a collection of Herman’s Mescal cups, tiny ceramic pots modeled after a jicara – a cup made from a half-dried fruit and used to drink mezcal tequila. The glazing on the pots emulates the same texture and technique seen in his larger ceramic works and paintings.

Herman, who was born in Germany and is now based in LA, is a painter and ceramicist, recognized as the West Coast parallel of the eighties neo-Expressionist movement. With works ranging from figurative to abstract, Herman’s journey reflects a commitment to pushing the boundaries of traditional mediums, evident in the unpredictable and experimental nature of his works. His focus on colour and glazing processes, as well as his dedication to embracing imperfections, resonates with broader movements in contemporary art that challenge conventional norms. As a teacher at UCLA, Herman has been a prominent figure in the artistic community, with his work featured in galleries worldwide and held in prestigious collections such as the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).