Dave Hardy’s sculptures proceed from the abstract assembly of salvaged industrial materials (polyurethane foam, glass plates, metal bars) and heteroclite objects (pens, modeling clay, pretzels, coconuts…). Closely interlocked, these elements compose autonomous structures of various sizes that seem to override the basic principles of balance and gravity with the grandiloquence of impossible shapes. Following game rules dictated by contradictions, Dave Hardy’s works present their visual aberration after a thorough exploration of matter, a set of gestures designed to hold together elements that theoretically have nothing in common, or almost nothing. A large part of his practice is based on a process made invisible. Engaged in an intense body-to-body struggle, Dave Hardy saturates the foam in cement; gorged with medium it is then kneaded, manipulated into voluptuous folds, wooden exoskeletons holding them in place before they are removed. Glass plates and objects are then pressed onto and inserted into the matter as it rigidifies, thus stabilizing the whole.
Through their strong physical presence, these sculptures, made of joint materials aggregated in unlikely contortions, incite the visitor to measure up to them and observe their proportions, but mostly and essentially, their diverging forces. Obviously testing the limits of balance, between precocity and technicality, transparency and opacity, flexibility and density, brutality and frailty of the materials, they present multiple tensions and arouse a sense of threat. The possibility of an accident, inherent to their perception, kindle a feeling of anguish, the visceral fear of the upcoming breaking of the glass. A similar empathic reaction can be applied to the foam material whose complex folds resemble organic shapes, one could even see some of the sculptural silhouettes as anthropomorphic or even totemic. It would only be a short step to think that these sculptures express the intuition of their imminent destruction through the enigmatic force that emanates from them.
The symbolism of the materials used by Dave Hardy is in no way neutralized by his formal research. If the titles of the works keep their share of mystery regarding their origin or the meaning they could bring to the work, the recurring presence of disparate objects bring a comforting familiarity and a welcome touch of humor. For we cannot dissociate the reuse of some industrial materials, carrying within them the history of their former use, from the global context of a world on the verge of saturation—thus evoking the feeling of generalized failure.
Dave Hardy (b. 1969, Sharon, CT) lives and works in Brooklyn (NY). He earned a BA from Brown University, Providence, RI in 1992, a MFA from Yale University, New Haven, CT in 2004, and attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, ME in 2004. His awards include the Teaching Excellence Award from the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York University, New York, NY (2013), Outstanding Faculty Award, presented by Steinhardt Undergraduate Student Government, New York University, New York, NY (2012), New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Crafts/ Sculpture (2011), and Emerging Artist Fellowship, Socrates Sculpture Park, Queens, NY (2005).He has had solo shows at The Barbara Walters Gallery, Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville (2017), and Skibum Macarthur, Los Angeles(2017), Galerie Jeanroch Dard, Brussels, Belgium (2016), Wentrup gallery, Berlin, Germany (2014), Churner and Churner, New York, NY (2014), Regina Rex, Queens, NY (2013), and group shows at Tibor De Nagy, New York, NY (2016), Invisible Exports, New York, NY (2015), Bortolami, NY (2014), and Thierry Goldberg Gallery, New York, NY (2014). His work was also included in the Queens International Exhibition at the Queens Museum in New York (2016) and Greater New York 2005 at MoMA/PS1, New York. Hardy’s work has been the subject of reviews in Artforum, Art in America, The Wall Street Journal, Frieze, the Huffington Post, Flash Art, L Magazine, and the New York Times, among others.
Marie Chênel is member of AICA and collaborates with many art reviews, artists monographies and exhibition catalogues. In 2017, she is the invited critic of the « Chantiers-résidence » developed by « Passerelle» art center in Brest and Documents d’artistes Bretagne.