The William Ris Gallery is pleased to present Chinese Inspiration/North Fork Creation, a solo exhibition of sculpture, color photography and ink paintings by noteworthy artist and international specialist in Chinese history and culture, Dr. Robert Oxnam. On view from July 14 – August 12, 2018 with an opening reception scheduled for July 14, 2018 from 4 – 7 pm.
The exhibition will include over 40 works of wood sculptures, color photographs and ink drawings that explore Oxnam’s artistic persona – a merging of Chinese philosophy and artistic tradition, American resourcefulness and imagination. Organized and curated by the artist and his wife, Dr. Vishakha N. Desai, a scholar of Asian Art, the exhibition will concentrate on Oxnam’s wood sculptures. Inspired by “Chinese Scholars Rocks” (gongshi) that highlight natural shapes in ancient stones weathered in riverbeds and mountains, Oxnam’s sculptures also pay tribute to the beauty and spirit of the North Fork – weathered wood found on the shores of the Long Island Sound from Port Jefferson to Orient Point.
“As I work, I am moved by several Chinese philosophies (especially Daoism) and by the notion that I am taking an old Chinese aesthetic approach and applying it to a fresh medium. I even share the Chinese preferences for certain tactile qualities in rocks – balanced, but unusual shapes, deep indentations, bumpy surfaces, intriguing holes. But I want to emphasize that my sculptures are not an effort to copy scholars rocks, nor to make old wood look like scholars rocks. I am seeking inspiration, not replication. And, unlike those who created Chinese rocks, I do not use tools to shape them to my own vision; rather I preserve existing forms and let the wood speak for itself,” writes Oxnam. After “harvesting” his wood from the coastline, he cleans, sands, and balances the wood, always keeping true to his mantra - do what Nature tells you to do and do nothing against Nature’s original intent. The sculptures are then coated in fine layers of milk paint, burnished and polished with natural base waxes creating a vibrant translucent patina.