In his debut exhibition with Callan Contemporary, artist Bradley Sabin presents a suite of ceramic sculptures and sculptural installations that celebrate the drama and delicacy of the natural world. Incorporating imagery abstracted from flora and fauna, his installations expand luxuriantly across space, interacting with architecture and delighting the eye. The artist has developed a sophisticated technique, using specialized, low-fire clays and glazes to impart vivid color, richly textural surfaces, and remarkably thin, graceful contours, which often seem to defy the laws of physics.
Sabin’s visual vocabulary centers around recurring motifs, among them flowers, leaves, antlers, seated figures, and biological forms evoking creatures of land and sea. In some pieces, abstract or representational shapes are nested within porous, lattice-like outer structures. In an allusive, poetic language, these pieces speak to our desire to protect and be protected, to enfold and sheild those we value within a cocoon of safety and sanctuary. “These are metaphorical sculptures about emotion,” the artist explains, “and the symbiotic relationship between nurturing and protecting.”
Sabin earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a Masters of Fine Arts from Louisiana State University. With his innovative technique and use of symbolic imagery, he is part of a larger movement among contemporary artists who are reimagining the possibilities of clay as a sculptural medium. He conceives the floral motifs in his installations as signifiers of fecundity and fragility, while forms suggesting branches, antlers, or coral are emblematic of strength and protection. In tandem, these motifs integrate visual and thematic dualities, which are emotionally affecting, above and beyond the sheer optical pleasure they inspire. A jazz-like improvisation and sense of play invigorate Sabin’s installations, with each part in dynamic relation to the whole and to the architectural environment. Jubilantly rhythmic, these buoyant forms seem to rise and dance in space.