In The Viewing Room: John Buck


In The Viewing Room: John Buck
Jan 21 – Mar 9, 2019

Following his recent Robischon Gallery exhibition of fantastical kinetic wood sculptures addressing overt socio-political commentary, Robischon Gallery is pleased to present a John Buck exhibition of free-standing hand-carved figures. The artist has been distinguished for decades for his career-long commitment to creating exceptional, carved jelutong wood sculptures of subjects joined with symbolic or abstracted elements. The figures which populate his work often appear as headless, nude forms suggestive of and even working as structural caryatids within their potent allegory. The vast and various symbolic representations found within the complex imagery of Buck’s work derives from a variety of sources including history, art history, mythology, world events, pop culture and more. Evolving from the artist’s deep fascination with all manner of information, the imagery is not intended as didactic, but rather, offers expansive or introspective interpretive possibilities. The artist’s complicated symbolism hewn of simple materials engages a profound and deep range of intellectual and emotional response.

The stately forms, all female in this exhibition, but male in other series, typically have complex still objects or patterned forms in lieu of their heads. Emblematic of creative forces, the objects in place of the head symbolize other aspects of cultural or human identity, while Buck’s geometric and natural objects inform his work with a similar thought-provoking significance intended to ignite and invite investigation through wonder. Universality is also explored through his figures as they stand with self-possessed grace, stride with unseen purpose or pose in relaxed and balanced yogic configurations while shouldering a myriad of symbolic forms in the location of the head/mind. The figures each convey an expression of a timeless or cross-cultural nature as the abstract curvilinear or geometric motifs recall global and historical design as well as the architectural or archetypal. Buck’s guised sentinels appear to hold higher thought and deep allegorical wisdom; their postures carry the weight of interpretation as they relay a constant counterbalance of calm and ease. The symmetry and elegance of the infinity knot atop the balancing figure of Kenya projects clear and sustained harmony. Equally, Medicine Wheel’s figure steps firmly, yet gracefully, as her upturned arms are poised to keep the timeless wheel-like disc calibrated. Through his jelutong muses, John Buck suggests of a kind of universal balancing act required to maintain existence in the world – or perhaps to maintain the world itself – while radiating a dedication to a balanced centeredness in human form.

John Buck received a BFA from Kansas City Art Institute and School of Design, Kansas City, MO and an MFA from University of California, Davis and attended the well-known Skowhegan School of Sculpture and Painting. He has been honored as a recipient of numerous honors including a National Endowment for the Arts, Individual Artist Grant, a National Artists Award, an Outstanding Nationally Recognized Alumnus in Sculpture award from The Kansas City Art Institute, the Governor’s Arts Award from the Montana Arts Council and was the Artist of the Year at the Yellowstone Art Museum, among others. Buck’s work has been exhibited across the US and is in the permanent collections of note including: Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Denver Art Museum,  Boise Art Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin, Contemporary Art Center, Honolulu, HI, Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA,  de Cordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, MA, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne, IN, Holter Museum of Art, Helena, MT, Library of Congress, Washington, D. C., Milwaukee Museum of Art, Milwaukee, WI, Missoula Art Museum, Missoula, MT, Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C., Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL, Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, CA,   Joslyn Art Museum, Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Seattle Art Museum, Yellowstone Art Museum, Billings, Montana, San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D. C., Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame, IN, Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA, University of Arizona Museum of Art, Tucson, AZ, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT,  and additional museums, art centers along with additional private and corporate collections.