Artist and sculptor John Beadle’s new body of work combines natural and manufactured materials to create pieces that reference and warp their original forms, and he is presenting his pieces in his first solo exhibition with TERN Gallery, with “Splinters and Shards”.
The new works are examples of Beadle’s ability to merge painting, sculpture and installation, creating a rich sense of line, dimension and texture.
Beadle, who trained as a painter and printmaker, applies a similar attitude toward materiality in the sculptures that are on display through January 22.
Beadle’s carbonized mahogany carvings fuse a variety of natural wood textures into single compositions. In his circular wall sculptures, round indentations, thinly etched lines and curving hollows mimic the various textures found naturally in wood, allowing the different pattens to blend into one another. The natural patterns are echoed in the grain of the wood itself, which remains a prominent feature of the pieces despite the carbonization of the wood.
Beadle contrasts his circular carving with two freestanding, upright wooden sculptures. The natural shape of the tree is referenced in the rectangular pieces, continuing the motifs of naturalistic linework and engravings. Beadle sees all of his wood carvings as a kind of drawing – except that instead of adding onto the existing material, these carvings require him to subtract from it, as one would do to a wood block for printmaking.
A select group of Beadle’s circular wall sculptures also incorporate metal, creating variance between organic and manmade resources and processes. Works like “Eden” place delicately carved and textured wood against brushed metal. The juxtapositions – between natural and manmade, textured and smooth, altered and untouched – are at the core of the artist’s practice.
“Splinters and Shards” also features four metal sculptures, two of which come from an older body of work. The two – “Make yourself known… at the gate” (2013) and “However airy the enclosure they inhabit…” (2013) – activate the material and esthetic motifs of iron fences and transform them into human silhouettes. “Make yourself known…at the gate” also includes a small bell, which, if the title of the piece is to be taken literally, is meant to alert those on the other side of the gate to our presence. This instruction to make ourselves known brings into mind the role of iron gates as barriers to entry, leaving the viewer to question what or who is on the other side.
Beadle is a multi-disciplinary artist who describes universal narratives with an incredible proficiency that manifests into meticulous presentations that elevate the raw and the common materials he often uses.
He creates bodies of work that touch on migration, labor, security, and the perception of value given to certain materials, objects and people. He creates an ambiguity between the delineation of fine arts, utilitarian artwork and craft. Due to his reach and longevity, Beadle is considered one of the seminal artists of the contemporary Bahamian art scene.