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Thomas Glassford
Sicardi/Ayers/Bacino, Houston, Texas
Recommendation by Donna Tennant

Thomas Glassford, "Inflorescence Rosa," 2018, lacquer, MDF, gourds and gold leaf, 22 3/4 x 18 1/8 x 1 1/8"

Continuing through September 6, 2018

Thomas Glassford has shown regularly here since 2008 — four solo shows and five group shows. Each new body of work has been remarkably different from the previous iteration. For “Osculum” he returns to his organic roots, revisiting the gourd for inspiration. Although only three of the 21 mixed-media pieces in the show contain what Glassford refers to as “gourd cups” (actual gourds split in half), more than half of the wall pieces reference the circular shape of the large dried-out seeds. Glassford has been transforming common materials into lyrical abstractions or architectural installations since he joined a group of avant-garde artists working in Mexico in 1990.

Glassford’s current works borrow liberally from nature, design and technology. He combines gourds, seeds, and other organic forms with building materials in a variety of experimental ways. A large sculpture resembles a tree, its 14-foot-tall trunk, branches and leaves constructed from steel embellished with gold leaf, lacquer and mahogany seeds. Resting nearby on the floor is what resembles a hollowed-out tree trunk section that has been split in half lengthwise and lined with gold leaf. Many of the pieces are constructed with MDF (a super-strong type of particle board) or polyurethane foam. After manipulating these materials, Glassford finishes the surfaces with gold leaf, lacquer, or polished plaster. On the wall are four colorful geometric paintings created with lacquer on MDF that has been cut with a router guided by a computer program. The two-color patterns suggest circuit boards, architectural floorplans or labyrinthine diagrams.

The title of the show, “Osculum,” refers to the excretory structure of a living sponge, the many circular openings through which water exits the sponge after the nutrients have been extracted. These openings are dominated by hollowed-out circles, many of which are lined, once again, with gold leaf. The artificial inlay does not diminish our feeling that the natural world lies at the core of Glassford’s inspiration.

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