Gallery Hopping: Jim Amaral’s Unsettling Sculpture at Agnès Monplaisir

It's a 'voyage between two darknesses,' according to the artist.

Jim Amaral Máquina infernal 3 (Infernal Machine 3), 2013. Photo: courtesy Galerie Agnès Monplaisir.
Jim Amaral Máquina infernal 3 (Infernal Machine 3), 2013.
Photo: courtesy Galerie Agnès Monplaisir.
Jim Amaral Esfera de dos cubos (Sphere with two cubes), 2014. Photo: courtesy Galerie Agnès Monplaisir.

Jim Amaral Esfera de dos cubos (Sphere with two cubes), 2014.
Photo: courtesy Galerie Agnès Monplaisir.

The unsettling yet elegant sculptures of Jim Amaral make a striking impression at Paris’s Galerie Agnès Monplaisir, where the Colombian-American artist is showing a selection of small and medium-scale bronze works.

It’s the sculptor’s first solo show with the dealer, but at 83 years of age, Amaral is no art world newbie. He’s worked in a variety of different mediums over the course of his decades-long career, mastering painting and drawing in addition to his work in metal sculpture.

Born in California, Amaral studied at Stanford University in San Jose and earned his masters at the Cranbrook Academy of Arts in Michigan before moving to Bogotá in the early 1960s. He has lived there with his wife, textile artist Olga de Amaral, ever since.

Jim Amaral Cubiculo: escalera (Cubicle: stair), 2014. Photo: courtesy Galerie Agnès Monplaisir.

Jim Amaral Cubiculo: escalera (Cubicle: stair), 2014.
Photo: courtesy Galerie Agnès Monplaisir.

Amaral’s most recent sculptures, heated and bathed in acid to create range of ash gray tones, depict strange vehicles and odd architectural constructs, some precariously balanced. Carousel: Moon (2014), for instance, seems to depict a fossilized garden with its dense growth of tiny stems, while tiny, faceless humans support monumental objects in the works Moon Pyramid (2013) and Riddle: Two Spheres (2014).

The artist’s celestial visions suggest a certain degree of otherworldliness, as if these structures originate from another time and place. His recurring use of the sphere, for instance, suggests lifeless planets in some far-off region of our universe.

As he makes his work, Amaral is preoccupied with larger matters than a simple sculpture, meditating on the mystery of the creative act and on death and eternity. “So often over the years, I have wondered what dying must be like, to leave one world of shadows only to pass into another kind of darkness, the darkness of death,” said Amaral in a statement.

Jim Amaral Espiral: doble cubo (Spiral: double cube), 2014. Photo: courtesy Galerie Agnès Monplaisir.

Jim Amaral Espiral: doble cubo (Spiral: double cube), 2014.
Photo: courtesy Galerie Agnès Monplaisir.

“This strange fascination infuses my sculptural work, so the question truly haunts me,” he admitted. “No one has ever remarked on this aspect in my creation, and maybe it’s not even apparent. But this voyage between two darknesses has been the focus of all my labor.”

See more work from the exhibition below:

Jim Amaral <em>Máquina infernal 3 (Infernal Machine 3)</em>, 2013. <br>Photo: courtesy Galerie Agnès Monplaisir.

Jim Amaral Máquina infernal 3 (Infernal Machine 3), 2013.
Photo: courtesy Galerie Agnès Monplaisir.

Jim Amaral Pirámide lunar (Lunar Pyramid), 2013. Photo: courtesy Galerie Agnès Monplaisir.

Jim Amaral Pirámide lunar (Lunar Pyramid), 2013.
Photo: courtesy Galerie Agnès Monplaisir.

Jim Amaral Esfinge Nº 10 (Sphinx Nº 10), 2007. Photo: courtesy Galerie Agnès Monplaisir.

Jim Amaral Esfinge Nº 10 (Sphinx Nº 10), 2007.
Photo: courtesy Galerie Agnès Monplaisir.

Jim Amaral Mesa eco Nº 8: hombre, 2010. Photo: courtesy Galerie Agnès Monplaisir.

Jim Amaral Mesa eco Nº 8: hombre, 2010.
Photo: courtesy Galerie Agnès Monplaisir.

Jim Amaral Cubiculo: espiral descendiente cubo (Cubicle: Spiral descending). Photo: courtesy Galerie Agnès Monplaisir.

Jim Amaral Cubiculo: espiral descendiente cubo (Cubicle: Spiral descending).
Photo: courtesy Galerie Agnès Monplaisir.

Jim Amaral Acertijo: 3 alas dos veces (Riddle: 3 wings x 2), 2015. Photo: courtesy Galerie Agnès Monplaisir.

Jim Amaral Acertijo: 3 alas dos veces (Riddle: 3 wings x 2), 2015.
Photo: courtesy Galerie Agnès Monplaisir.

Jim Amaral Piramide con cubo (Pyramid with cube), 2015. Photo: courtesy Galerie Agnès Monplaisir.

Jim Amaral Piramide con cubo (Pyramid with cube), 2015.
Photo: courtesy Galerie Agnès Monplaisir.

Jim Amaral Maquina infernal 5 (Infernal Machine 5), 2014. Photo: courtesy Galerie Agnès Monplaisir.

Jim Amaral Maquina infernal 5 (Infernal Machine 5), 2014.
Photo: courtesy Galerie Agnès Monplaisir.

Jim Amaral Cubiculo: nueve dentro (Cubicle: Nine within), 2014. Photo: courtesy Galerie Agnès Monplaisir.

Jim Amaral Cubiculo: nueve dentro (Cubicle: Nine within), 2014.
Photo: courtesy Galerie Agnès Monplaisir.

Jim Amaral Domo: doble triangular (Dome: Double triangle), 2014. Photo: courtesy Galerie Agnès Monplaisir.

Jim Amaral Domo: doble triangular (Dome: Double triangle), 2014.
Photo: courtesy Galerie Agnès Monplaisir.

Jim Amaral Vehiculo con va y ven (Vehicle: To and Fro), 2014. Photo: courtesy Galerie Agnès Monplaisir.

Jim Amaral Vehiculo con va y ven (Vehicle: To and Fro), 2014.
Photo: courtesy Galerie Agnès Monplaisir.

Jim Amaral: Chariots of Humankind” is on view at Galerie Agnès Monplaisir, 8 Bis Rue Jacques Callot, Paris, March 25–May 14, 2016. 


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