June 28 – July 31, 2019
Roll Up Project is pleased to present sculptures by Jerry Leisure. Leisure’s finely carved and painted head sculptures feature plump folds of skin, taut cheeks and expressive browlines, and explore universal topics of identity and inner worlds. The faces depicted are stand-ins for all humans – they are not inherently gendered, and their coloration in shades of red, green, yellow, and tan speak more to the mood of the sculpture than any particular skin tone. To this end, they allow the viewer to see themselves in the work, and to decode the complex narratives as they see fit.
Yoyo Smile (2007) and Duck Soup (2009) are on view in the Harrison Street window. Both sculptures incorporate tall table or pedestal structures, blurring the border between fine art and furniture. Leisure’s deep understanding of materials and construction make the border between the pedestal and the sculpture seamless, and create a dynamic statement about traditional craft’s important role in art making.
The sculptures on view in the Roll Up Project mostly have closed eyes and covered mouths. Their solemnity is reminiscent of historical sculptures in public spaces, delivering allegorical messages and ancient stories. But Leisure goes a step further and infuses unusual elements, like objects slicing through the head, to infuse humor and lighten the mood. Overall, the sculptures provide a space to contemplate modern allegories and daily life.
Leisure has said “The possibility that an art object might testify to different realities in future contexts intrigues me.” Indeed, the sculptures take on a charged meaning in the context of current political events such as the Democratic debates. For example, Edge of the Earth (1993) features a boat with a mast or cross but no sail, floating atop a head with closed eyes. In a contemporary context, it could spark conversations about migration, religion, and the environment. In 50 or 100 years, the context will inherently be different, and Leisure’s sculptures leave room for many avenues of interpretation.
About the Artist
Jerry Leisure is a sculptor based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He received an MFA from Washington State University and a BA from UC Berkeley. His work has been displayed at St. Mary’s College, The Richard L. Nelson Gallery at UC Davis, the Bedford Gallery, and SFMOMA Artists Gallery, among others. He has taught art on the West Coast at Washington State University and DVC for over five decades. Learn more about his work at jerryleisure.com.