Carl Cheng at REDCAT

Carl Cheng Material Behavior
OCT 22-FEB 26, 2023

Throughout his nearly six-decade career, Carl Cheng’s artistic practice has been a means of exploring the capabilities of natural and manufactured substances. From his early use of emerging plastic technology for 3D photographs to his daily application of resin in his Liquid/Solid Series to his self-sustaining environments, Cheng continues to make art that demonstrates its own materiality and that encourages close observation from viewers. 

Under the auspices of John Doe Co.—a business created at the suggestion of his accountant that also furthered the artist’s access to manufacturers—Carl Cheng began creating art tools as a method for mechanizing art while also allowing the medium to determine the object. With the art tools, users could execute a limited number of choices each time the tool was operated, but the resulting possibilities were infinite as no outcome would be the same. Influenced by Japanese katana boxes—and out of necessity as Cheng traveled Asia for two years—each of the art tools had a branded carrying case for when the tools were not in use. He liked how intention was required to view the artwork and hoped that would spur careful attention. It all adds to an inherent sense of value in the art-viewing experience that Cheng wants to create for viewers.

After returning to Los Angeles from his travels and settling into a new studio, Cheng began to work on larger artwork and installations. REDCAT’s upcoming exhibition will feature Sand Rake (1979-ongoing), a prototype for the art tool that first appeared in Natural Museum of Modern Art (1979), an early public installation staged by the artist at the Santa Monica Pier. Sand Rake has evolved with each installation as Cheng has included components that allow the tool to drop water and pile on sand in addition to its initial raking capabilities. Cheng also does not follow a predetermined design when creating his installations with the art tool. Every installation is an experiment for the artist and can be experienced for a limited time, but cannot be recreated. As always, the artist relies on the ephemerality of the artwork to draw in viewers and raise the value of their experience. 

There will be a reception for the artist and a public program on October 26, 2022.
REDCAT is a multidisciplinary center for innovative visual, performing, and media arts founded by the California Institute of the Arts in downtown Los Angeles.
October 22, 2022
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