Henry Richardson

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About the Artist:

To call Henry Richardson (b. 1961) dedicated to his artistic vision is an understatement. For over twenty-five years, he has used the unusual medium of plated glass to create the physical manifestation of that vision.

Much like the proponents of Minimalism, Richardson chose to master an industrial material: cutting large sheets of commercial-grade glass in their raw form into shapes that he refines by literally chiseling the edges. His sculptures are formed by fusing these smaller fragments together, using a high-intensity light welding process. In a way, Richardson treats the glass as if it were stone: resulting in sculptures with flowing shapes and rhythms that transform as a result of their interaction with light.

Light is a vital component in Richardson’s work. It brings alive his translucent glass sculptures, giving the impression that the heavy glass is weightless. The resulting appearance of fragility is a contradiction to the actual mass of the work: a fitting metaphor for the fleeting power of spirituality and the weight of the present, in the sense that spirituality has the ability to bring a transformative energy to our daily lives.

To Richardson there is light in every human being. Inspired by this Quaker belief (God is Light) Richardson creates a sense of mysticism in his works that allows viewers to contemplate and personalize their own relationship with the light (or Light) they encounter in his sculptures. His work bears resemblance to Abstract Expressionist Mark Rothko (1903-1970) who, like Richardson, wanted the physicality of his paintings to reassure the viewer merely by their presence, without a need for words to communicate the depth of their spirituality.

Many of Richardson’s sculptures are hollow, allowing light to penetrate the work from every angle, immediately drawing viewers to the idea of looking beyond the chiseled surface. Like British sculptor Anish Kapoor (b. 1954) Richardson understands the power of the void and utilizes empty space to his advantage, allowing for expression rather than explanation. The elaborate sculptural components, altered by light, evoke a sense of empowerment and energy in viewers which encourages them to look inward to find their own inner light.

Richardson’s inspiration also stems, partly, from concepts in Jewish mysticism. For example Tikkun Olam refers to the Jewish concept of Mending the World: our own individual kindness will bring about positive change on a larger scale, finally resulting in a cosmos that is in harmony rather than chaos. Quakerism takes this one step further through the assertion that every person has the potential to do good, and that every person carries this light (or Light) within them. At the same time Karma comes to mind: the Hindu and Buddhist notion that the sum of our individual actions will determine our fate in future existences.

Healing The World (Tikkun), 2000 is a prime example of how Richardson’s vision manifests itself through the physical qualities of his sculptures. The orb is constructed from layered circles of fractured glass, fused together to form a massive crystalline whole, literally representing the concept of putting the world back together, one small shard of glass at a time. This powerful work is testimony to harmony, even if constructed with a metaphorical limitless number of shattered pieces.

Process is extremely important to Richardson, almost as important as the end result. To Richardson “the physical form is only the residue of an artist’s creative process”. He works in an industrial medium for which no artistic techniques existed before he took on the challenge to mold this tough material to his vision. Requiring physical strength and endless patience, Richardson had to take a trial and error approach, accepting that failure is as much or even more a part of the artistic process as success. In a similar vein, contemporary painter Chuck Close (b. 1940) has stated that: “I always say that inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just show up and get to work. Out of work comes ideas”.

The powerful geometrical shapes in Richardson’s work (spheres, columns) demonstrate his minimalist aesthetic. His signature pieces endorse the notion that abstract forms materialize the spiritual without showing the hand of the artist, a Modernist concept. Jackson Pollock (b. 1912) stated that “the modern artist is working with space and time and expressing his feelings rather than illustrating [emphasis added].”

Richardson, like the Modernists, assigns meaning to color. Blue, present in many of his works, signifies the serenity that we all carry within us. "The world is blue at its edges and in its depths. This blue is the light that got lost…It disperses among the molecules of the air, it scatters in water…This light that does not touch us, does not travel the whole distance, the light that gets lost, gives us the beauty of the world, so much of which is in the color blue.”

Richardson’s thoughtfully conceived and painstakingly constructed sculptures not only enhance our surroundings but also our spiritual well-being - his own contribution to healing the world.

by Shlomit Dror and Annelien Bruins

Biography:

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2017 Toll Brothers, Brooklyn, NY
2015 Mattatuck Museum, Waterbury, CT
2014 Duclot La Vinicole, New York, NY
2011 Collectors Corner, Naples, FL
2010 Pismo Gallery, Aspen, CO
2007 Botanical Gardens, Miami Beach, FL
2005 AJ Japour Gallery, Miami Beach, FL
2001 Longstreth Goldberg Gallery, Naples, FL
1994 Franz Bader Gallery, Washington D.C.  

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2015 The Art Center, New Canaan, CT
2015 Sculpture Now, the Mount, Lenox, MA
2013 Contemporary Salon, Water Mill, NY
2012 Seven Bridges Foundation, Greenwich, CT
2011 Frost Museum, Miami FL
2010 First Miami Biennele, Miami, FL
2006 SOFA, Chicago, IL
2005 DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, MA
2005 World's Fair, U.S. Pavilion, Aichi, Japan
2005 Nemacolin Woodlands, Farmington, PA
2004 Gallery Henoch, New York, NY
2003 DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, MA
2003 IFC@Grounds For Sculpture, International Exhibition, Hamilton, NJ
2003 AJ Japour Gallery, Miami Beach, FL
2003 B. Gerald Cantor Gallery, Haverford College, Haverford, PA
2003 Gallery Henoch, New York, NY
2003 Padulo Longstreth Goldberg, Naples, FL
2003 Wit Gallery, Lenox, MA
2002 Wit Gallery, Lenox, MA
2001 Wit Gallery, Lenox, MA
2000 Wit Gallery, Lenox, MA
1999 Holsten Gallery, Stockbridge, MA  
1999 SOFA, Chicago, IL  
1998 Heller Gallery, New York, NY  
1998 Holsten Gallery, Stockbridge, MA  
1997 Holsten Gallery, Stockbridge, MA