Jon Isherwood

Jon Isherwood, born in 1960 in England, resides in US now. He used to study in Leeds College of Art, Leeds, England, and later got his B.A. with honors, Canterbury College of Art, Canterbury, England, M.F.A. Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, University of New York at Plattsburgh.

When he was studying at a middle school in Britain, he was eager to be an artist like Henry Moore. But later he assisted Anthony Caro, the heavy metal master, for 15 years, traveled around the world and finally settled down in the United States. To escape the influence of Anthony Caro, he began working with concrete and stone, which was probably due to his fondness of Henry Moore. In early 1980s, after the success of his first exhibition in the United States, Isherwood became a professional sculptor. Plain and simple, Isherwood is fascinated with the expression and feeling that clay provides as it is shaped by the hand. First he makes a clay form, the rotation of which reminds us of turned pottery. This makes Isherwood’s sculptures different from the pure Abstract Expressionism of Bruce Beasley and Kenneth Snelson while being more closely related with traditional handicraft. Then he scans the clay forms into the computer and transforms it into a digital model in virtual space. Attached planes or embossed continuous patterns (e.g. water waves or incised lines) by 3DMAX to the surface of the model, and the plane patterns will automatically vary in density on the surface. The sculpture thus becomes a combination of random manual form and digital accuracy, expressing the sensibility of life fused with the rationality of technology, traditional handicraft fused with digital information.

His sculptures are intimate, intellectual, with a mysterious emptiness embedded, and the ancient and the modern confronting one another. His sculpture “Fish Out of Water” has been permenanct collected by National Art Museum of China.

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China is a fascinating blend of the ancient and the modern. It was therefore a particularly appropriate place to find inspiration for my sculpture, in which cutting edge digital technology is used to make sculptures made of stone, the oldest, most resilient and unforgiving of materials.

I used the computer to take a traditional Chinese calligraphic patterns and imagery and overlay it with an abstract geometric pattern of my own design—another collision of the ancient and the modern. I then superimposed these merged ideas and patterns onto a form, which became the sculpture “Fish Out of Water.”

My travels through China in conjunction with making work in China and exhibiting in China were a main source of inspiration for the pieces I created, which are not a series, but rather four distinct responses to what I saw and absorbed. At the Dazu rock carvings, for example, I discovered an overwhelming experience of pattern and imagery bursting forward from the rock surface in high relief, surging forward in terms of dimension and yet still very attached to the earth. The issue of repetition and pattern and the aesthetic proportioning of the objects that led to a face-on frontal address from a sculpture were striking, and led to some of my sculptural explorations in pattern and form for this exhibition.

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