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Modernist and structural art with the Echoed Formalism ism ism

Utopian Slumps will re-form to host a one-off exhibition, Echoed Formalism ism ism, from Caleb Shea.

Modernist and structural art with the Echoed Formalism ism ism


October 27th, 2015

Held at Long Division Gallery, Schoolhouse Studios in Collingwood and running from October 24 to 31, Echoed Formalism ism ism is a new series of neo-formalist sculptures merge geometric abstraction with organic form. A low-lying sculpture takes the shape of a claw, while a tall two-legged work images a contorted human body with arms outstretched. Individual pieces made from steel and concrete will combine to create an experiential maze of spatial configurations.

Echoed Formalism ism ism is reminiscent of modernist sculptural forms like David Smith, but inflected with a decidedly post-internet aesthetic closer to the digital gradients of Cory Arcangel, Shea’s works are a distorted echo of an earlier mode of formalism. Indesign Live’s Digital Editor Ashley Tucker sat down with Caleb to talk about his exhibition Echoed Formalism ism ism.


Can you tell us a little bit about your background

I grew up in rural Northern NSW, the son of two aspiring sculptors. My earliest memories are of my parents making and discussing sculpture, which they studied in their early careers – so I had a strong connection to abstract sculpture from the beginning.

Can you share with us what has led you to this point? When did you first begin creating this collection?  

I continually make sculpture in my studio so when Melissa from Utopian Slumps offered to work with me on an exhibition at Schoolhouse Studios I already had the beginnings of a series I was working on. I consider my work a continual evolution of a formal sculptural language – an open-ended and intuitive exploration of abstract form. So the works in this collection have a strong relationship with my previous works and through playful colour and new forms they continue to expand upon my sculptural language.

How would you describe your creative vision for Echoed Formalism ism ism? Can you describe some of your designs?

My practice seeks to open up the traditional language of abstract sculpture in a way that reinvigorates the medium and engages a new audience. The sculptures for this show merge geometric abstraction with organic form through the use of pre-fabricated steel and form-worked concrete. Bright colours are used in gradients to echo (as the title suggests) a distorted version of an earlier mode of formalism.


Can you explain the process of creating your collection, from your initial vision to reality?

There is a very strong relationship between my sculpture and the studio. I am always making. The planning for a show evolves contiguously to my ongoing process of creating sculpture. My studio practice is in a state of constant flux and exhibitions are a punctuation in my sculptural journey.

What do you think is the common factor across your creative output? 

Finding new ways to articulate abstract sculpture.

Where do you look for inspiration?

I enjoy a more personalised interpretation – possibly even a misinterpretation – of the history and language of formalism, which enables an intuitive and open-ended engagement. I’m attempting to take a sideways glance at art history and at the work of such modernist sculptors as David Smith.

Do you have any plans for another collection in the future?

I am fortunate to be working on some private commissions and a few upcoming shows this year and next. I plan to make sculpture for the rest of my career.

Utopian Slumps

Echoed Formalism ism ism

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