James Fuhrman's new work opens a door to the unceasing discovery of the present. Fuhrman is an artist of the Earth in its most primordial, essential, life-giving form. Many of his larger sculptures invite a response as natural objects or places. Even physically small ones, like the welded steel structures in the "60 Quests" suggest a perceptually grand scale. This feeling for mass and rootedness emerges from Fuhrman's strong sense of the earth as a geologic phenomenon --generating, supporting, anchoring, and continuing through deep time.
Brush paintings, sculpture, architecture: Fuhrman's art emerges from his discipline and choice to set aside expressions of personality or commentary in favor of a more open and embracing resonance. While he considers the newest work 'political' this work transcends confrontation and argumentation and chooses to address human experience as a whole. It does not assert itself as expressive of the artist's personality; rather, it has been permitted to subsume its maker. Overtly informal, it is a direct communication: not based on conventional or personal symbols, signs or narrative.
Fuhrman's judicious placement of sculpture in an environment is often compared to minimal Zen rock gardens like Ryoan-ji and the Japanese concept of 'ma' space. This work evokes Shinto or Taoist associations, but Fuhrman rejects codified philosophies and systems of aesthetics. "I just AM " he insists. Maybe that's what's Buddhist about him. He developed a personal routine of circular sumi drawing and later discovered that is a traditional Japanese practice called enso. Fuhrman lightly describes himself as an "accidental Buddhist," one who arrived where he is by simply following his natural bent. Perhaps he thus evades categories, contradictions, and catechisms.
A sense of scale
also flows from Fuhrman's sensitivity to the subtle details of things. Currently
he is using cedar, a timber he particularly appreciates in its natural environment.
"Each piece of wood has within itself a little universe; it's part of
the earth." He builds substantial forms and finishes them by torching
the surface, a process which exaggerates the grain. "I'm not trying to
control wood, to put my will over it, but working with the wood and letting
tell me what it wants to be."
-Robin Rice, November 2007
You are an alchemist. You turn
nature into things and things into nature.
-Gerry Hoepner, 2006
For the Zen student, any object of quiet contemplation can be a doorway to deeper understanding. But such a thing, whether it is a rock garden, a tea ceremony, a painting, or a koan-an unanswerable question provided by the teacher-is only, as is said traditionally, "a finger pointing at the moon." If the student gets too caught up what is being contemplated, it's like becoming entranced by the finger, and missing the moon beyond.
James Fuhrman's sculptural environment holds a monumental form in wood, a wall piece of wood, and some haiku-like texts the artist has written. But it also has a place for sitting, an enveloping color on the walls, and the spaces created between the pieces and the viewer. Fuhrman's sculptural work reflects his fascination with the Japanese concept of ma, or the silence and space between things.00 0 If this installation were a koan, it might ask, which is more solid, the monument or the air around it?
In an earlier series, Fuhrman
created intensely gestural, calligraphic forms, created in steel and embedded
in rock-like concrete: enigmatic messages, both energetic and serene. More
recently, a series of small pieces in welded steel placed stone-like forms
in intimate, delicately calibrated relations, as stones might meet in a rock
garden. The dance of space and object, of something and nothing, is one he
has practiced, and offers here. Enjoy the finger, but don't forget the moon.
-Miriam Seidel, Curator, The Gershman Galleries
Fuhrman's pieces are approached with a spirituality seeking connectedness with ultimate truths about the essence of things, a oneness with elements in the world that surround him. Fuhrman is clearly an artist in control of his craft whose work demonstrates a sureness of technique, a sophistication of vision whose complexity of thought unites with the simplicity of expression and technical proficiency to produce works that awaken the eye to singular aesthetic truths about beauty.
-Therese Dolan, 2004
An American sculptor
with an Oriental sensibility
We are a nation at war, and nearly everyone appears to be in denial. This exhibition demands that we stop going around in circles and listen to the quiet. The art, the environment can't help make sense of the madness around us, but it can nudge us to a place where we can begin to make sense of ourselves." These are the words of cerebral sculptor-cum-philosopher James Fuhrman, creator of Contemplative Spaces, on view at Rosemont College's Lawrence Gallery.
Fuhrman sees his sculptures, created in welded steel, cedar, or mixed media, as "meditations about the idea of stillness and quiet."
Working in his Glenmoore studio (a most contemplative space in its own right), Fuhrman welds or builds, creating in both large and small scale, ever pushing himself and his art further into the cosmic realm. On the one hand, he "feels part of the earth's process" and possesses a keen sense of "deep, geologic time." Yet he considers the cedar beneath his palm and muses that "each knot is a little universe. It expands and moves and changes."
Just as aesthetically pleasing as his asymmetrical, highly original sculptures are the titles, if one can call them that. Often, they read more as concisely insightful free-verse, Japanese-inspired poetry. "I am verbal," Fuhrman admits. "I think and I read. Therefore, titles are really vital to me."
At Rosemont, a massive cedar work whose title reads in part "There is one Buddha" tilts slightly forward, controlling the space, reminiscent of the gigantic Buddha at Kamakura in Japan, Fuhrman says.
The calligraphy that is a starting point for much of Fuhrman's creativity is full of the circular form essential to Zen brushwork. These circles evolve, taking on three dimensions.
Fuhrman's surfaces are as varied as the spaces he creates. Whether smooth, velvety cedar or welded steel with crevices and wave patterns that suggest both land and sea, the works quiet the viewer and lead him toward the empty space.
Internationally renowned, Fuhrman does concede that he perhaps possesses a Japanese sensibility. That, coupled with designs based on the Renaissance Golden Rectangle, only serves to underscore that this artist is, indeed, one who not only "learns experientially," but lends concrete expression to ideas and emotions the rest of us feel but cannot describe.
The Rosemont exhibition is part of a three-destination showing of a body of Fuhrman's work that is intended to be considered as a whole, not separate, show.
-Marie Fowler, Main Line Times, November 7, 2007
Abstract effects set in tranquility
James Fuhrman is exhibiting his sculptures and drawings at Rosemont College, and he has achieved a mood of stillness and quiet around this "Contemplative Space Installation" by giving careful consideration to placement of works in the gallery.
These are large or small blocky or oval abstract shapes the sculptor constructed of silken-finish cedar or welded steel. Yet they cannot be mistaken for conventional artworks. Situated against dark-toned walls, several of the larger pieces would seem out of place in a commercial gallery.
And they're designed to create a peaceful environment from what appear at first glance to be just abstract shapes. Taken together, Fuhrman's works and his installation -the walls and the low light levels- have the desired calming effect.
-Victoria Donohoe Philadelphia Inquirer, November 11, 2007
Full Text of Interview: http://drexel.edu/coas/ask/featured-interviews/10-19-fuhrman.asp