An exhibition of new sculptures by Houston artist Steve Murphy will be on display February 18–March 17, at William Campbell Contemporary Art. An opening reception will be held Saturday, February 18, 6:00–8:00 p.m. The show will feature Murphy’s geometric, three-dimensional forms of welded steel, lead, and wood. Abstract and largely minimalist, the pieces embody grace and movement while also exhibiting a controlled precision.
Murphy’s interest lies largely in the formal elements of sculpture: line, form, space, and volume. He works to reduce each to its purest essence, at the same time exploring the geometric relationships inherent within the forms. This ongoing fascination with geometry often centers on the ellipse, which the artist exploits to create a controlled and continuous curvature throughout each piece. The simple yet lyric curves evoke movement and energy.
Is There Something More suggests slow, thoughtful motion as it rises up from the ground and gently arcs through space. This monolithic figure, at once solid and flowing, reveals beauty in its simplicity. The sensuality of the surface belies its initially smooth appearance, as it evidences the artist’s hand. Murphy has worked the exterior to create a patina through chemical-induced oxidation, giving the piece its intense coloration, tactile sensibility, and overall deeper dimension.
If I Had My Way rests carefully on its elliptical curve, displaying potential energy and balance. The juxtaposition of contrasting colors and materials adds an asymmetry that heightens the visual stimulus of the piece. Pure line and form interact fluidly to create an austere and engaging sculpture.
Murphy has a background in industrial design, and his vast knowledge of technological innovations and chemistry inform his work. He begins the creative process by mapping out each sculpture with drafting software—a method that not only facilitates the artist’s process, but also makes construction of such complex geometric forms possible. He then translates the two-dimensional design into a three-dimensional model, which serves as a basis for the final construction. After the forms have been produced, Murphy plays with their surfaces, emphasizing and augmenting the natural beauty of the raw materials. The steel pieces are fabricated via welding, and their surfaces manipulated by the artist through grinding, smoothing, and chemical application to produce the desired patina. Murphy’s handling of the materials juxtaposes the geometric with the organic, transforming crude, industrial surfaces into rich, sensual volumetric planes.