Walter Maciel Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of whimsical sculptures and drawings by Bay Area artist Robb Putnam. The show is entitled Strays and it is Putnam’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles.
Putnam’s sculptures depict various types of animal forms using a wide selection of soft materials and discarded items. Constructed from old blankets, ripped shirts, fake fur, shredded rags, loose threads, plastic garbage bags, leather scraps among other debris, the animals are shaped into large format versions of a stuffed toy and mimic characters from children’s books. The subjects, however, lack a sense of lovable traits and seem physically and psychologically vulnerable like monstrously overgrown stray dogs. The oversized sculptures exist as misfits whose demeanors both invite and repel the viewer. For instance, the sculpture entitled Varmint depicts an oversized dog sitting upright with head bowing forward, ears folded down either side of his head and eyes half closed. The torn and tattered surfaces suggest a troubled existence as if previously accosted in a violent manner to expose its soft insides. Yet there is an empathetic quality which demands affection and sympathy for his well being.
The show also includes small format sculptures of dissected body parts. An example of a dog’s head is shown on a pedestal from the neck up with ears curled forward and eyelids sagging. The isolated head removed from its body forces the attention to the sorrowful expression and pouting face. In addition, a series of playful and colorful snouts will be scattered along one wall as an installation. The oblong forms with pronounced noses at the tip droop downward off of the wall’s surface like sock puppets performing in a show.
In the back gallery a series of new drawings will be displaced in a grid format as well as single panel images. The drawings imply the innocence and play of the sculptures but are more explicit in nature like the recollection of a fevered dream. In these works, severed cartoon heads drift, collide and overlap in space. These orphaned characters in search of a body attempt to reassemble themselves into a larger whole but never quite meet the challenge. Overall, the sculptures and the drawings evoke a sense of emotion where intimacy, humor and desire allow for a closer visual inspection while empathy, fear and repulsion keep the viewer from getting too close. This parallel existence mirrors the complex and contradictory human experience and its impending vulnerabilities.
Putnam received a BFA from the Maryland Institute, College of Art in Baltimore and an MFA at Mills College in Oakland, California. He is a recent recipient of a Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant and a Headlands Center for the Arts Graduate Fellowship finalist. Putnam has been included in exhibitions at Lyons Weir Gallery in New York and Rena Bransten Gallery in San Francisco. He currently has a large-scale sculpture on view in the lobby of the Andaz Hotel on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood.
The gallery is open from Tuesday through Saturday, 11am to 6pm. For further inquiries please contact Walter Maciel at 310 839 1840 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please visit the gallery website at www.waltermacielgallery.com.