By Deborah Weisgall
Une Triade de Mon Moi Intérieur (A Triad of My Inner Self )
2008, 6” x 6” x 3’’ (13” high with stand), cherry, acrylics, dyed silver leaf, and African blackwood
Jacques Vesery’s objects exist somewhere between utility and fantasy, between the real world and a place where wonder is the purpose of all things. Vesery, who lives in Damariscotta, is internationally recognized as a master of his métier, and his work is in the collections of the Detroit Institute of Art and the Yale University Art Gallery. He took his last art class in seventh grade.
At first, these objects offer no clue to what they are made from. They are small; most can fit in the palm of a hand. Pick up a pebble, sea-smoothed, veined with quartz, and it’s weightless; an urn, gilded on the inside, that would never be able hold anything but light. Vesery invents balls that seem to have sprouted carved and painted feathers, intricate pink scalloped shells, and spoons with rippled handles and golden bowls. He works transformations, turning—literally—blocks of wood into products of his meticulous and powerful imagination.
This object comes from a series called Seaforms. The shape could be a hatched osprey egg or the broken exoskeleton of a crustacean. Vesery started by turning basswood on a lathe into a hollow sphere. He sculpted the sphere, shaping the edges of the opening and flattening curves, then carved the surface into intricate, organic patterns. He used a wood burner to incise the spiraling tripartite design that combines feathers, bone, and an elegant squiggle that looks something like a seaweed blossom.
When this process, which takes weeks, is finished, the surface of the piece “is tan to black, very mottled,” says Vesery. He applies a first coat of black “to even out the canvas.” The shades of acrylic pigment in this piece range across a broad palette—magenta, umber, indigo, lemon, white—and are layered to achieve the translucent green and its flickering highlights.
“A lot of people say they were self-taught,” says Vesery, “but really they learned by picking things up here and there. For me, it’s about observation, inspiration, and trying to make something my own. Each piece is an experiment in process.”
Turner and carver. Sculptor and painter. Craftsman and artist. What Vesery is fits no definition. What he does is this: he fashions wood into tangible marvels, luminous containers for his spirit.
Del Mano Gallery | Los Angeles, California | Midtown Payson | Hobe Sound, Florida