Joseph Havel - Stacks

Joseph Havel: Stacks

February 22 – March 29, 2014

Continuing his exploration into the nature of meaning, structure, and decay, Stacks presents seven translucent towers of books piled onto one another into precariously balanced forms.  Cast in polyurethane resin, the sculptures reveal many of the details of their original forms.  As the viewer looks inside the clear resin, he/she sees objects suspended within, including paperback books and smooth stones.  A few of the pieces also feature sections of bronze, and the artist has left traces of the casting process on the sculptures, including areas of flashing and bits of wax.

For Havel, books serve as sets of knowledge, as forms that insist on permanence and our impulse to resist decay. While the outer books cast in resin represent a particular narrative or set of values, such as the commercial world or the public side of the self, the books captured inside offer a more personal and at times idiosyncratic collection of knowledge and our sense of the world.  Havel offers no judgment in this pairing of value systems, as the interior and exterior narratives play off one another.

In addition, the exhibition contains a major installation entitled Hope and Desire, comprised of ten square Plexiglas boxes filled with tens of thousands of silk shirt labels.  The lines and forms created by the layering of the labels interweave the colors of the two series.  Originally placed into tight designs and forms, the weight of the labels cause the forms to shift and settle into the clear boxes, much as the human body relaxes as it ages.   With the simple texts of “Hope” and “Desire” repeated countlessly throughout the composition, Havel uses the words as starting points of investigation, relying on viewers to figure out their own interpretations and relationships to possible meanings for his works.

Joseph Havel was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1954.  After earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Minnesota in 1975, Havel received a M.F.A. from Pennsylvania State University in 1979. Recent solo exhibitions include Nothing at Yvon Lambert Gallery, Paris, 2010; The Devil and Daniel Buren at Galerie Gabrielle Maubrie, Paris, 2009; Drinks Are Boiling. Iced Drinks Are Boiling at the Laumeier Sculpture Park, St. Louis, 2006; and a ten-year retrospective entitled Joseph Havel: A Decade of Sculpture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in 2006.  The artist’s work was included in the 2000 Biennial Exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

Havel’s sculptures and drawings can be found in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Contemporary Arts Museum, Honolulu; the Dallas Museum of Art; the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; Musee Arte, Roubaix, France; the Whitney Museum of American Art; and the Centre Pompidou.  The recipient of numerous awards, Havel was named “Texas Artist of the Year” by the Art League of Houston in 2010.  The artist lives and works in Houston, Texas, and currently serves as the Director of the Glassell School of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.