After the manifold complications that arose in 2020, Clayton’s cherished Bruno David Gallery is seeking to restore some semblance of normalcy in 2021 with “Paper made and unmade” from Buzz Spector and “Sea Lover” from Charles Schwall.
The tandem exhibitions – among other attractions at the pristine, tasteful space near the northeast corner of the sprawling Centene campus – opened Saturday, Jan. 30. They will run till March 13.
Moreover, Spector is now enjoying the distinction of having his artistry showcased concurrently, through May 31, at the Saint Louis Art Museum in an exhibition entitled “Buzz Spector: Alterations.”
The gallery’s namesake and the two artists themselves provide intriguing insights into the Clayton exhibitions.
Although Spector’s and Schwall’s works embrace fairly traditional techniques and approaches (respectively, collage and abstraction), they eschew the medium largely associated with modern art: painting. In that regard, David explains what inspired him to display “Paper made and unmade” and “Sea Lover” together.
“In coupling the work of Schwall and Spector, the core connection was the shared interest of the use and representation of water,” he says. “Both artists were linked by this element in their respective works.
“With Spector’s show, water is a key component in the production of paper, and it was therefore an undeniable feature of his work. In Schwall’s ‘Sea Lover,’ the artist used abstraction to showcase water and its natural environment, by celebrating the necessity of water and all the life that it maintains.”
Otherwise, given the twofold nature of the current main showcase at David’s gallery, it seemed impishly apropos to ask Schwall and Spector alike, if each of them could obtain a piece of art from the other, whether from the current exhibitions or otherwise, which work he would choose – and the rationale for that choice.
“Given the opportunity to acquire a work from Buzz Spector,” Schwall reflects, “I would choose Expletive #1 (@#0*). The work is a linen-over-yarn on cotton piece from 2008. It is comprised of several elements, a central fabric/cotton shape that contains the symbols of an expletive word. Each length of yarn forms an expletive symbol, dangles down the front of the page and piles inside the bottom of the frame like a puddle of yarn.
“Much of my interest in contemporary art is connected to my work as an early childhood educator. Pulling, sewing and tying yarn; the formation of language through symbols and letters; and tearing and creating with paper are all processes that are deeply connected to early childhood and the first learning processes of the human hand. As an artist and an educator, I appreciate the significance of these creative actions that are very prevalent in Buzz Spector’s piece.
“Finally, the year of 2020 has been such a challenge, often fraught with frustration, that to obtain a piece that addresses expression through expletives seems quite fitting.”
Spector, for his part, cites his and Schwall’s shared love of working on paper. “In recent years, I’ve had the opportunity to admire his work on view at Bruno David Gallery,” Spector says, “and I’ve been particularly enthralled with the gouaches on paper from his 2017 exhibit, ‘Breaking, Splitting, Seaming.’
“The artist has remarked about his own fascination with natural forms and organic systems, but a feature of that work which most intrigued me was his depictions of biomorphic forms in fabric patterns. Imagine an ocean gastropod in gingham, and you’ll get a sense of how Charles employs uncanny meldings of pattern and form.
“At this pandemic moment, however, those same forms also evoke the cloth masks most of us are wearing as COVID-19 protection. What was once a suite of metaphors on natural coloration or camouflage now has an extra visual reference to a fearful disease, tingeing Charles’ paintings with newly sinister overtones. Perhaps the work I most covet is Decollete 1, with its paired gingham ‘fins’ beneath which the wormlike body of a nudibranch is outlined in gray.”
Bruno David Gallery, 7513 Forsyth Blvd., St. Louis; 314-696-2377, brunodavidgallery.com