In his sixth solo exhibition with Callan Contemporary, sculptor David Borgerding debuts a suite of lyrically elegant abstract sculptures in welded bronze, which engage the poetics of space and evoke the qualities of movement, buoyancy, optimism, and freedom. Across a wide range of scales, these freestanding, pedestal-mounted works flow from the artist’s personal syntax of resonant forms, a visual vocabulary characterized by dramatic contrasts of verticality and horizontality, scale and volume, part and whole. This lexicon constantly evolves as Borgerding innovates new material and compositional strategies, guided by a sense of invention, improvisation, and play. The sculptures are invigorating to experience, their contours appearing to shift when viewed from different angles, the metal shimmering with patinas and randomized linear textures, galvanizing light, activating the surfaces. Many pieces have sweeping, elongated lines, curves, and cantilevers, recalling the exaggerated proportion ratios of Mannerist paintings and the French Empire Style. Often the forms balance on pinpoint fulcrums, giving the appearance of floating in defiance of gravity.
Borgerding earned a B.F.A. degree at Kendall College of Art and Design and an M.F.A. from Savannah College of Art & Design. The recipient of prestigious grants from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, he has been based in New Orleans since 2000. His studio in the Irish Channel neighborhood, custom-designed to accommodate large sculptures, is a sprawling space with 20-foot doors, 25-foot ceilings, and dual bridge cranes to lift heavy work. He is represented in important private, corporate, and institutional collections throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia, and has executed ambitiously scaled commissions including the 18-foot-tall Volpang, commissioned by The Helis Foundaton for its Poydras Corridor Sculpture Exhibition; the 23-foot-tall Pangatam, commissioned by philanthropist Thomas B. Coleman and most recently, the 2020 sculpture AESHAW, which is installed in a private sculpture garden in New Orleans and which, at 10 feet tall by 24.5 feet long, is Borgerding’s largest commission to date.
Even at monumental scale, these artworks evoke an elemental simplicity that seems effortless—an aerodynamic levity, as if they are poised to become airborne—yet their creation is anything but facile. The products of a meticulous time- and labor-intensive process, they typically begin with sketches, then progress to cardboard maquettes, and culminate in the shaping and welding of the bronze components, with the scoring of surfaces and application of patinas the final steps. The planning, technical finesse, and sheer visceral exertion required to impart the illusion of lightness is discussed in “Borgerding”, a 200-page monograph about the artist’s career published by Callan Contemporary in 2019: “Within this paradox—the appearance of ease and elegance, undergirded by exacting calculation and hard work—lies one of Borgerding’s greatest strengths: His artistry and analytical mind are one. He is a poet but also a problem- solver. He engineers enigmas.”
- Richard Speer