Façade: An Interview with Richard Bottwin, by Brent Hallard, Visual Discrepancies blog, March 5, 2010

Richard Bottwin, Facade #5, 2009
Wood, Acrylic Paint, Textured Acrylic Sheet
15 x 15 x 4.5 inches

Brent: As a sculptor you work fairly pure, neither adorning pieces with mounts nor placing your presentations on pedestals. If a “work” sits on the floor and only grows to somewhere around or below the knees, well, that is where it sits.

You suspend. In this case the body becomes very aware of its own mechanisms; how it values weight, position; how this operates within the sense of the temporal.

Smaller scale: The eye moves in and latches onto visual sensations that convince, though also deceive. And while no guesswork is needed to place the vocation in the realm of the sculptural there is a question to whether the form adds more, or if there is more to what there is?

Richard: My very early freestanding sculptures, although stable, looked like they were always about to fall over. Now I strive to make it very difficult to get a vertical fix on what you’re looking at. Walk around them and any expectations you had during your first scan will be subverted. Some recent pieces create a slight sense of anxiety in my gut when I look at them. Not a panic response exactly, more fun than that. Confronting a human-scaled construction that is standing on the floor, does engage the body of the viewer as you suggest. In contrast to this, I have found that the import of gravity is not such a big deal in small, pedestal size pieces. Maybe that’s why I moved them to the wall and used them to explore other issues long ago.

I’ve always been suspect of the conventional “modern art” solutions to gravity; Sculpture on a pad, sculpture on a stick, sculpture on a hidden pad (underground) and sculpture hanging on a wire doesn’t interest me. I like things to stand alone, solidly on the ground without artifice. Recently, I’ve been very conscious of wanting the things to stand in a thoroughly inevitable way, like junk casually left on a construction site. This allows the environment to intrude upon the sculpture and the sculpture to engage the environment.

The environment may be the “More” in your question. I’d like to have several sculptures in an installation working together, or, a single built environment one can enter that remove the viewer from this reality. I’ve always been moving toward architecture and have brushed up against it a few times. I feel like I’m collecting information to eventually build a pavilion or a “house” of some sort again as I did a few times in the past.

One vice I have is a passion for the decorative. For a brief period, around 20 years ago, I threw 22k gold leaf on my sculptures and sometimes glazed it with color. I learned a lot about pigments and transparency that way and then got over it. Now, I employ that love of decorative surface to create allusions to functionality. Veneers make the sculptures look like furniture and that confuses expectations. Figuration in a veneer also initiates visual activity that I can play with in the form of the sculpture…”