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Howard Kalish

The esthetic basis of my work is growth and structure, the various ways forms are put together and become themselves, in nature and in the way the mind perceives it. I don't try it render these things by picturing or copying natural models such as plant forms, but rather by following analogous principles in the making of the sculpture to the way forms are made in the natural world. The "look" of the finished piece is very much determined, just as it is in nature, by how it came into being and grew, and what influences were brought to bear on it along the way. Just as in nature, by far the most important factor is the overriding growth principle (the DNA, if you will). This is how the work is conceived, in every sense of the word. An idea or seed is born in my brain (I don't know how) and I try to let it realize itself in the form of a three-dimensional object by nurturing and not violating its essence. In the best circumstances the thing that is created has an existence of its own, independent of me.
Most of the sculptures I make are open: they can be seen through, and the juxtaposition of the forms against each other, and the background, changes as one walks around them. They are also polychrome, and the interplay of the colors, their overlapping and interconnections, also changes. This aspect of my work is dramatically dependent upon the setting. If a piece "works", it seems to do so in most settings, but in surprising and different ways. To me this is most gratifying, since it is serendipitous and unplanned.
I have developed a technique, which allows a great deal of freedom within a very solid structure. The sculptures are made of pigmented cement over a welded steel armature. The color is an integral part of the material, not painted on afterwards. The cement is mixed with an acrylic polymer medium rather than water, which increases its strength, durability and resistance to the elements. The resulting sculpture is permanent and virtually maintenance-free.


PLANT, MANY FLOWERS - 216 X 96 X 96 - Painted steel
10,000 PRAYERS - 102 X 102 X 68 - Cement over welded steel
Plexus - 132 X 132 X 96 - Bronze
Survivor - 216 X 96 X 72 - Cement over welded steel
URCHIN - 97 X 106 X 98 - Bronze