Douglas Tausik Ryder: Body Language
September 7—October 19, 2019
A painting or sculpture not modeled on any real object is every bit as concrete and sensuous as a leaf or a stone… (but) it is an incomplete art which privileges the intellect to the detriment of the senses.
—Jean Arp, Notes from a Dada Diary (1932)
As if reprising the motivating logic behind the sculpture of 20th-century French German artist Jean Arp, Douglas Tausik Ryder’s recent work seems to embody the notion that humanity and nature are one. Separated by almost a century, there is an apparent commonality between the visions of the two sculptors, but Tausik Ryder takes a contemporary spin on Arp’s premise of abstraction inspired by the natural world. One of the founders of Dadaism, Arp made a series of powerful sculptures, titled “Human Concretions,” which expressed his belief in the human connection to nature. His pure biomorphic forms captured the essence of something organic, related to the human figure while continually evolving. The visual language of Tausik Ryder explores similar concepts, but with a new approach and a process that is both technically and literally cutting edge.
Although they are explorations in abstraction, Tausik Ryder’s works are clearly rooted in figuration, suggesting the female form with their curvilinear contours and anatomical allusions. Composed of flowing organic lines and geometric shapes, the sculptures are derived from drawings, scans, photographs and machine stereography files, then fashioned via a state-of-the-art high-tech digital process. The artist harnesses a combination of technical and industrial computer programming applications for artistic pursuits, using a CAD/CAM language – which drives tool paths to shape the desired forms on a CNC (computer numerical control) machine. Leveraging the unique advantage of having an industrial CNC in his studio, Tausik Ryder takes on the dual role of fabricator and creator, giving him close control at every stage. First, the sculptures are machine carved in multiple pieces in his studio, then assembled and hand-finished to a nearly seamless sanded surface.
Process notwithstanding, it is intriguing to discover how Tausik Ryder’s sculptures interact with one other in space. On one level, they connect through the echoing of their thematic physical shapes. From another point of view, the perceived interaction relates to the artist’s thoughtful use of negative space – defined by window like openings carved out of his sculpture. These voids offer glimpses inside – or sometimes through – the forms themselves. In such instances, the relationships among the works intensify, with an opening functioning like a viewfinder through which to experience other pieces in the gallery. The largest piece, “Venus” (2017), allows the viewer to actually climb inside, as if entering a sort of womblike orb-shaped treehouse with organically shaped openings through which the rest of the gallery can be seen. As if gazing through a keyhole, when looking through one of these windows, other sculptures in the space appear in the context of an elegantly constructed frame.
Tausik Ryder’s sculptures resonate with the past while being technically of the moment. They are a harmonious balance of humanity and nature; engineering and instinct. In them, the voids, as much as the positive wooden forms themselves, converse together in an eloquent and engaging dialogue.