Saturday, April 18, 2015

Judith Trepp's Sculptures of Hard-Won Grace


No. 1, 2015, stainless steel and car paint, 6.5 x 17.75 x 14 inches

John Kenneth Galbraith once observed how people would often commend him on the informal, conversational style of his writing. I thank them, he said, and then assure them that this breeziness is the spontaneous result of six or seven hard-fought drafts. This is what I thought of when I viewed images of Judith Trepp's new sculptures, whose evident fluidity and grace belie the fact that they were created using a 40-ton press to bend that is, force the stainless steel into the desired form.

I often wonder if an artist will be offended if I remark on the sheer beauty of a work. Well, I can't help myself here. These works are, as my wife remarked, simply gorgeous, and the soft colors harmonize with the stainless steel in a way that feels meant-to-be. That metal can be made so pleasing and inviting is something fun to contemplate.

Some modes of art reveal the processes of their creation. Consider Kerouac's "spontaneous bop prosody," which many critics said would have benefited from some make that a lot of editing. They were wrong, because that's not what he was going for. He was trying to reveal streams of consciousness. This is a big part of what abstract expressionism was about, and why it was also called "action painting." It revealed the act of creating. These aren't that. But this is not to say there isn't spontaneity involved. I think that in this kind of art the spontaneity occurs at inception. I know that Judith is concerned with bringing images forth from the unconscious. The only way that happens is through some form of intuition. However, once this emergence has happened, conscious effort and technique are required to create the "final" work of art.

Process note: While writing this I have been listening to a collection of Yehudi Menuhin performances. I trust that neither he nor the composer would be offended by the fact that I found the violinist's performance of Act III from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake to be exceedingly beautiful.

(Please view these at Judith Trepp's website as well, since these images aren't reproducing here quite as well as they do there.)

No. 2, 2015, stainless steel and car paint, 6.5 x 17.75 x 17 inches

No. 2, 2015, stainless steel and car paint, 6.5 x 17.75 x 17

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