Clark Derbes skillfully wields a chainsaw to transform tree stumps and blocks of wood into lean, polygonal art objects. Drawing on a variety of inspirations, such as Early American game boards, and quilts, urban architecture, Keith Haring, and Sol le Witt, Derbes changes ordinary ash, poplar, pine and elm into optically illusionistic sculptures.
Derbes masterfully plays with perspective, volume, and space to achieve a deft trompe l’œil, which subverts viewers’ expectations and perceptions. The geometrically shaped and colorfully patterned pieces dizzyingly slip between flat and three-dimensional forms. Furthermore, Derbes’ work bucks simple categorization. The sculptures simultaneously appear both organic and polished; ruptures and cracks frequently appear on the surface of his wooden objects, and Derbes utilizes a complex patina technique that includes ash, pigment, mud and other natural material to imbue his art with a satin finish, which begs to be caressed.
Derbes was born in New Orleans in 1978, and obtained a BFA from Louisiana State University in 2002. Derbes has exhibited in Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Vermont, and Massachusetts. Derbes currently lives and works in Vermont.