Bill Claps solo exhibition
April 13 – May 11, 2024

Fabien Castanier Gallery and Laurent Marthaler Contemporary are proud to present, “Natural Abstractions Florida“, a solo exhibition of new mixed media artworks by contemporary American artist Bill Claps. This exhibition features works from the artist’s Natural Abstractions series, which combines photography, painting, and his signature gold foil technique. Claps presents work that traces a spiritual and reflective path through nature, exploring the transformative power of light.

Natural Abstractions is a series of work greatly inspired by traditional Chinese painters and Japanese printmakers. Their landscapes conveyed the spiritual power of nature and the universal longing to escape into the natural world with the use of negative space and various brush techniques, greatly influencing the European Impressionists. With this homage to traditional Asian paintings and prints, Claps conveys a contemporary perspective upon the power of nature to illicit feelings of meditation, simplicity, and connection to our environment’s most intriguing forms. 

Claps’ creative process begins with photos he captures from around the world. “Natural Abstractions Florida” features photos of the quintessential Floridian flora: Palm trees and ferns, as well as the lush foliage of the Everglades which preside over expanses of clear sky and ocean horizons. Mounted onto canvas, the photographs are enhanced with gold foiling, using a technique he has developed over the years. This process adds layers and surfaces that embolden the natural forms, creating intriguing texture and forming works that reflect light and mimic that which is found in nature. His final step is to paint onto the surface of the work, further enhancing the images and texture. Each work is executed in a positive and negative version, in order to articulate the duality and balance that is the basis of much of oriental culture.

With his use of gold foils, Claps acknowledges the metal’s art historical significance. From the gold used in Byzantine religious paintings to the Japanese practice of kintsugi in which broken pottery is repaired with lacquer and gold powder, the shining material has been used to convey a variety of meanings, from piety to power and wealth. Incorporating this iconic material in his work allows Claps to represent the spiritual power of nature. Viewing the works at different times of day gives varying perspectives, as the evolving natural light reflects off of the work. This ephemeral and transformative quality of the medium means the work becomes a part of nature as much as it is representative. Observing Claps’ artwork is an experience that highlights one’s place within a larger world and instills a respect and profound appreciation for our natural environment.

Bill Claps is a visual artist, photographer and filmmaker based in New York City. His work illustrates the universal roots and common elements that are shared by all cultures, often referencing art history and language. He works in various mediums, including photography, painting, video, poetry, and performance, and his pieces have been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world. Born in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, Bill earned a Bachelor of Arts at Harvard University, where he studied painting and art history. He studied painting and drawing at the Art Students League in New York and in Florence, Italy. His paintings, drawings, and videos have been presented in exhibitions in museums, galleries, and institutions internationally.

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