Scooter LaForge’s new show of small sculptures, made entirely from found objects and then painted in his signature style, is something of a conundrum.
While the artist quietly explains that the work is “the simplest expression of the essence of my work,” he continues on to say that “I really don’t know what they are about.”
His art has certainly been about things in the past, with themes of sex and death and gay lifestyles readily apparent in canvases that covered expanses up to 17 by 20 feet. While LaForge is primarily known as a painter, he’s done larger sculptures as well in the past but not for quite awhile.
The new work is a definite departure from his last painting series, “The Roaring 20s,” which had a lot to say in works such as “Femme Tops and Butch Bottoms.”
LaForge created this series in silence, working in his Tribeca studio with no distractions — no wifi, no computer, no music.
“They are so simple,” he notes. “I only used materials that I found in the street. Cigarette packs, old brushes, linen, combs, wood, wire, liquor bottles, a tape measure, a rubber glove. They were created very spontaneously — there was no thinking about them.”
The artist likens them to Gertrude Stein’s abstract novels and automatic writing, as well as the works of Andre Breton and Max Ernst while emphasizing their lack of theme.
“They are just sculptures,” he insists.
Which is not to say that he discourages the viewer from finding their own meaning in the various animals, clowns, trees and the occasional humans that are represented in the center of Theodore gallery. Seeing the menagerie laid out on a single table, one finds that they are more than the sum of their formidable parts.
“They work well alone,” notes Stephanie Theodore, the gallery owner. “But they have magic together! They are very theatrical — their interaction is like watching a ballet where all the dancers are dressed like animals. He’s channeling an inner world that we only thought we had left behind.”
“They came from the subconscious,” LaForge explains. “I just started making one and all of a sudden there were 50 of them. They are comforting for me. They remind me of my childhood, making me feel safe and nostalgic. Making them brought me a lot of joy.”
Despite his affection for the work, he’s not planning on keeping any of them.
“I’m attached to each and every one,” he admits. “But it’s like when people adopt puppies — you’re happy to see them go to good families.”
Looking forward, LaForge will return to painting with no desire to create any more of these whimsical creatures.
“They are done,” he plainly says. “I got it out of my system.”
Scooter LaForge: Sculpture is at the Theodore Gallery, 373 Broadway, Room 610 from May 6 until June 18. Gallery hours are Thursday – Saturday 12-6 p.m., and the opening reception is Friday, May 6, from 5-8 p.m. You can follow him on Instagram at @scooterlaforge.