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CS Coates & Scarry

Derek Weisberg's Figurative Sculpture

Who is Derek Weisberg? AAAHHHH, who is Derek Weisberg? It is a question I am still trying to figure out and I guess, hope to be pursuing till I die.  For now, I am 27, a Californian bay area native. I reside in the “West’s Best Bet”, that's Oakland for those who don't know.   I am a workaholic and find heaven in my studio blasting mid 90?s and or obscure underground rap music.  I am an artist, a creator of objects, a sculptor.  I primarily make figurative sculpture out of clay, but also sculpt with other materials, draw, paint, make prints, and pursue anything else to keep me interested, curious, to push myself and create something visually in whatever form the piece dictates. Tell us about your creations? Primarily they are figurative sculptures, focusing on the human condition and portraying emotions.  I aim to make work that is accessible and crosses all demographics, work that is timelessness and universal.  The figures’ physical features are stylized to emphasis the emotions, psychology, and condition I am interested in portraying.  I am concerned with realism only as much as to make the work believable and to express an innerness, getting the viewer to feel.  At its core the work reflects humanist ideology, as I search for truth based on the commonality of the human condition. When did you first start selling your art? I've been selling art since I was a kid, I was a youthful entrepreneur. I've been making art since I was old enough to hold something in my hand, and was encouraged to show it early on.  I remember being a young teenager and entering art competitions and exhibitions that required the applicants to be 18 or older, and making up a fake age, just to show my work.   How has your work developed over the years? A lot!!! I was making silly shit when I was a kid, to see and hear about that stuff, you will have to visit my pops house.  When I was 18 I was making more silly shit, b-boys, and rappers, dj's and all this stuff about hip hop music and culture.  A lot in my life changed quickly after 18; my first true heartbreak, and my Mothers’ cancer metastasized, to name 2 in a long list of things. I didn't want to give up including the culture of hip hop in my work, so instead of commenting on it I used the aesthetics and style of it to comment on art about my life, my experiences, and emotions.  Another big change in my work came when my Mother passed away when I was 23.  Since then my work has continued to examine my life,  emotions and such, but the work is also dealing with issues and ideas of life and death, the afterlife, the metaphysical, death, funerary rituals and practices, grieving, renewal, rebirth and creating in the memory of things and people lost.   Did you study art at college? Yeah, I went to California College of Arts and Crafts, (now CCA) got a BFA, in ceramics.   How do you make your sculptures? They are all one of a kind, hand built ceramic.  No mold or casting.  They are all coil built, so they are all hollow, no armatures or anything like that.  As the clay hardens and looses its water it becomes firm, and I can go in and refine the pieces, adding on and subtracting material to get the final form.  Then they get glazed, or painted with ceramic pigments and then fired in a kiln, sometimes up to 2300 degrees.  This is a very general, simplified explanation, I don't want to bore you with ceramic dorkery and technical B.S. What are your influences? What aren't my influences?  Life is my influence.  Relationships and interactions, experiences, and emotions, sights, sounds, memories, the sky, the street, art history, funerary rituals, Judaism, classical music, hip hop music, existentialistic and humanistic concerns, as well as ideas of an afterlife and spirituality, daily news, the world and everything inside and outside of it. A few of your favourite famous artists? Ancient Egyptian tomb sculptors, Roman and Greek art, the Fayum portraits, El Greco, Jaina Mayan sculptures, Benin art, Gothic and Baroque art, Fra Angelico, Schongauer, Schiele, Neri, Giacometti, early Picasso, Riemenschneider, Messerschmidt, Baskin, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Bernini, Twombly, DeStaebler, Freud, Auerbach, Rauch. Arthur Gonzalez, Rodin, Memling, Van Der Weyden, and a  few, not so famous: Evoke, Other, Mike Simpson, Mike Lay. I really really love art history.  I think it is very important!  No artist as much as they would like to think exists in a bubble, mankind has been making "art" or expressing themselves visually for over 30,000 years. I think it is the artists’ responsibility to acknowledge and honour this history and the lineage and to draw from it. The best thing about being an artists is? I have a creative and positive way to express and release.  I have an outlet to pursue "truth", a means to try to understand life and this crazy world. What do you do to take time out from work? I don't really.  There is no separation between life and art/work for me. What are you working on at the moment? I just finished 3 pieces for the group show for Coates and Scarry, ‘Modern Fabulists’, at View Gallery in Bristol, England.  I am very happy with those works. They are a continuation and expansion on an earlier series I was working on, mixing ceramic and fabric.  I used porcelain to sculpt the upper torso of these figures and they came out so buttery and delicious, I love the vitrified, low sheen of porcelain, and the random cracking that can happen. Also I am working on a big piece for Anno Domini's 10 year anniversary show coming up.  This is a show to keep your eyes and ears open for, it will be an incredible line up of artists and an incredible testimony to what their program has been about for a decade. Plans for the future? BIG PLANS!!!!!!, some of which the details are being negotiated; but all of which will include making the best art that I can, pursuing my dreams, and living each day to the fullest of my potential.

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