Reflections in glass and oil
David Hopper and James Kuiper bring complementary visions to 1078 Gallery
The oil-on-canvas, semi-abstract landscapes of James Kuiper are constructed of simple shapes and complex textures, the paint laid on thick, then swirled and troweled into forms signifying hills, trees, clouds, orchards and rivers. The images are visceral, and convey a sense of spontaneity and immediacy, but also demonstrate a sophisticated sense of harmonious composition and color.
Kuiper, who has taught painting and drawing at Chico State since 1989, is a prolific painter and exhibitor whose work within the academic world has taken him to residencies in places as diverse as Anchorage, Alaska, and San Sebastián, Spain. He is currently traveling in South America, where he will attend an exhibition of his work at Casa Thomas Jefferson in Brasilia, Brazil, and a show in Ecuador that he will share with Chico State University colleague Sheri Simons.
For the 1078 Gallery show Kuiper will exhibit recent works exploring aspects of landscape that include not only geological events such as the formation of mountains and rivers but also the effect of such human activities as agricultural alteration of the landscape.
Kuiper’s large, earth-toned paintings should be well-complemented by the glass sculptures of co-exhibitor David Hopper, whose figures are painted human forms encased in thick, clear glass. The figures are expressionistic, their cartoonish, twisted forms and features further distorted by the refraction of the curved surfaces surrounding them.
Hopper founded Chico’s world-famous Orient & Flume art glass studio in 1973 with partners Douglas Boyd and Shari Maxson after receiving his MA from San Jose State University. He eventually chose art over commerce, selling his share of the studio in order to devote himself more fully to producing his own art.
“I naively thought I would start a little glass company, and this would give me the money and time to pursue my art,” Hopper said. “It did provide the money, but I could not be an artist and a businessman at the same time.”
Hopper built his own art studio, knowing he wanted to work each day as an artist, not a production craftsman. He had the money from selling his portion of Orient & Flume and a good partner in Maxson, whom he went on to marry.Hopper made his sculptural figures, looked at them, responded and made more.
“I was inspired to work with the [human] figure because of all our daily dilemmas,” Hopper explains. “I don’t like to read any movie reviews. I do not want to be told what a poem means. I am not interested in formula novels or stories with predictable endings. I do not want to ruin my art by giving the audience explanations. The pieces are mysteries and ambiguous at their best.”
Hopper was one of the first people to use high-temperature glass enamels and photographic images in cased glass. He reflected on the pieces included in his upcoming 1078 exhibit, which will display work he created between 1983 and 1992.
Hopper explained that although he can sense a certain naivety in older pieces, he’s still proud of this body of work. “I was really fortunate to follow this passion and dream for as long as I did.”
The long-time Chico artist goes a little deeper when explaining his art and the process, comparing a good artist to a research scientist.
“Artists want to explore their minds and materials. It is the public that has an opportunity to allow this research to continue,” he explained. “The material, objects, pieces, work, etc., that an artist sells is almost a ‘stock’ in themselves. It is the public that has the good fortune to be able to live with a great piece of art and support this exploration.”