We had a wonderful opening reception for Bob Clyatt's new exhibition on Friday, June 30. More than 100 people braved the muggy Brooklyn evening to come out and celebrate with us. Bob's show "A More Human Dwelling Place" will be on display through July 30. View the exhibition catalogue here.
Bob Clyatt does not ignore class struggle, scientific or technological challenges, or matters of human relationships with each other; rather he confronts them head on. In his artwork he presents them within a matrix that is free of the background noise of presupposed opinions and biases. He uses his art as a prism through which the viewer can see our world and contemporary issues distilled down to their basic questions, hopefully unburdening them from their own egocentric experiences and encouraging a holistic perspective.
His new body of work is hardly dispassionate or a mere reportage of the seeming chaos that surrounds the contemporary human experience. It is a statement of love and hope, and an almost maternal desire to nurture. In fact, the work is driven by a deeply held faith in humanity and our ability as individuals and a civilization to rise above the discord and lowered expectations. To his credit, Clyatt’s sculptures avoid the immediate gratification and understanding present in so much of today’s socially critical art, instead encouraging in-depth engagement. These reliefs permit contemplation and reflection; they also challenge us to question our own implicit responsibility to and for our circumstances without moralizing.
Clyatt’s art is also a sort of self-portrait, in that he understands himself to be the product of the systems and people he has been exposed to in his life, while also imagining in himself the possibilities of what he may become or indeed is in the process of becoming. Whether as part of James Baldwin’s milieu, seated at a Wall Street conference table, laboring alongside Chinese foundry workers, or in his idyllic home studio, Bob Clyatt is a true citizen of the world and as such has allegiances extending far beyond class or nation. And it is this final understanding of the artist that helps us engage his art on a footing equal to its challenge.