Richard Lof­fler

A piece of Texas

Western Art Collector - - CONTENTS - RICHARD LOF­FLER

The phrase “go big or go home” was seem­ingly in­vented for bronze artists, par­tic­u­larly ones who like to com­pli­cate their life with am­bi­tious projects many years in the mak­ing. It’s cer­tainly an idea Richard Lof­fler likely felt when he un­der­took a mas­sive new ex­hi­bi­tion open­ing Oc­to­ber 19 at In­sight Gallery in Fred­er­ick­burg, Texas.

“I’ve been plan­ning this one for close to five years,” the Cana­dian sculp­tor says. “It’s al­ways a good idea for an artist to be self-fo­cused in the arena with a show like this. I just re­ally want to show peo­ple what I’ve been work­ing on, and show them how I’m ex­per­i­ment­ing with dif­fer­ent textures and grow­ing to be the best artist I can be.” Lof­fler’s show, ti­tled Wild Trea­sures, fea­tures nine brand-new bronzes, as well as nine fi­nal edi­tions from older works and a dozen works that only have two or three edi­tions left. “I’ve been putting some pieces away, just sav­ing them for an oc­ca­sion just like this,” the artist says. Of the new works, Lof­fler has turned his at­ten­tion to Texas sub­ject mat­ter to honor the home state of In­sight. Works in­clude jackrab­bits, javelin, elk, bob­cat and, ap­pro­pri­ately, a Texas longhorn.

Be­sides the Lone Star State, an­other uni­fy­ing fac­tor among the new pieces is Lof­fler’s abil­ity to ren­der and ex­plore dif­fer­ent types of tex­ture in bronze. In Coign of Van­tage, he cre­ates fur that does not dis­tort or hide mus­cle def­i­ni­tion on a climb­ing bob­cat that may be peer­ing down on its next prey. Cloak & Dag­gers is an owl piece that cap­tures a fluff­ing ges­ture that birds of prey of­ten do when they are more re­laxed or rest­ing. Else­where in the show, Lof­fler cap­tures bear fur, bunny tails, horse manes and duck feath­ers, each cre­ated with the nat­u­ral char­ac­ter of the an­i­mal in mind.

“Sculp­ture is im­por­tant in two ways: the sil­hou­ette, where out­side line meets space; and then some­thing called map­ping tex­ture, the ar­eas where your eyes will flow around the pieces,” Lof­fler says. “When you get close to a bronze you have to be able to move through it with­out los­ing peo­ple. Ev­ery­thing has to flow. I’ll add some tex­ture to slow you down or a line

to speed you up. It’s like a movie: your emo­tions go up and down based on what you’re see­ing. It’s all sub­con­sciously hap­pen­ing, but at the end of the day these de­sign el­e­ments help guide some­one emo­tion­ally through a piece.”

Lof­fler con­tin­ues, “When you move through a bronze, the artist has com­mand over you and your emo­tions. Artists like Ge­orge Carl­son know this, as do artists like Tim Shin­abarger and Ken Bunn. They sculpt so that the large forms and dark and light grab you in, and once you’re in close the tex­ture will guide you through the work.”

The artist, who is based out­side Saskatchewan, works pri­mar­ily from life and spends a great deal of time just look­ing at the real an­i­mals. He re­cently spent time in Que­bec on a ranch work­ing with cat­tle for a large com­mis­sion. “I was right in the cor­ral with them, just try­ing to cap­ture them from life,” he adds. Back in the stu­dio he will work up dozens of lit­tle clay sculp­tures as he re­fines the ges­tures and poses. “I live with each work for a long time. Coign of Van­tage was in my stu­dio for eight years as I worked on parts I did like and re­worked parts I didn’t. And as you fin­ish more and more pop up and you just start work­ing each new one. Even­tu­ally, it starts getting closer and closer to be­ing done,” he says.

The artist re­lates his own process to one un­der­taken by Au­guste Rodin for a sculp­ture of writer Vic­tor Hugo. “Rodin had Hugo come to a café across from his stu­dio be­cause he would only sit for short amounts of time. Rodin would run across the street and study Vic­tor Hugo’s head in a cer­tain po­si­tion, and then run back and sculpt it. He would do that con­stantly, just run back and forth,” Lof­fler says. “It was a won­der­ful piece, and he first just did the front and sides. Then the back. The he worked on the po­si­tions at the quar­ter turns, then the eighths, then the six­teenths. Even­tu­ally you have enough in­for­ma­tion that you’re done. Don’t look at the in­side, just start on the out­side edge and work your way in.”

Be­sides a num­ber of new Texas works, Lof­fler will also be show­ing a se­lec­tion of rodeo and buck­ing horse images, in­clud­ing Life by a Rope, fea­tur­ing a rider on a mas­sive air­borne bull, and Mak­ing Rain­bows, a leap­ing horse that seems to spring up out of a cloud of dust at his feet. Many other works are wildlife pieces that in­clude moose, bur­ros, white­tail deer, foals, bi­son and a bear scene ti­tled The Bird Watcher, in which a bear ca­su­ally ad­mires a trio of ducks in the wa­ter at his feet. The work is spe­cial to Lof­fler be­cause he traded an edi­tion of the piece for a fox paint­ing by Bob Kuhn. “Bob never re­ally traded much, but he liked the piece and asked me if I wanted to trade. It took me all of one sec­ond to say yes. He asked what I’d like for it. I chose a red fox be­cause he painted them so won­der­fully,” he says. “Not only did he paint the fox, but he also sent a draw­ing of The Bird Watcher in Conté crayon. It was un­ex­pected and not part of the deal, but that’s the kind of man he was.”

Wild Trea­sures will be on view through Oc­to­ber 31.

Le­gacy, bronze, 17 x 29 x 13”

Cloak & Dag­gers, bronze, 14 x 15 x 10”

Pole Dancer, bronze, 22 x 15 x 12”

Richard Lof­fler next to one of the un­fin­ished works from his mon­u­ment Buf­falo Trail. The fin­ished work now sits in front of the Na­tional Mu­seum of Wildlife Art in Jack­son Hole, Wy­oming.

Golden Shad­ows, bronze,22 x 18 x 10”

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