Richard Gachot: Sculpting Whimsy from Found Objects
Feast for the Eyes: Art Inspired by Food and Dining
Nassau County Museum of Art
Through November 6, 2016
By Debbie Wells, Artful Circle
In making his first pieces, Richard Gachot worked like a traditional sculptor in the Middle Ages: carving wood with hammer and chisel. The next stage of Gachot’s stylistic evolution began with the inclusion of a few ready-made elements, such as metal, wire, rope, or thread. As he progressed, he increasingly embraced the use of found objects. The artist explains, “These objects of different sizes, shapes, and textures are like tubes of paint. They are another medium to work with.” Fruit Platter, 1975, was inspired by a wedge of wood spotted beside the service road of the Long Island Expressway. Richard Gachot picked it up, thinking it looked like a piece of watermelon, and painted it red and green. Placing it with other carved and painted fruit on a wooden platter, he created an image of abundance reminiscent of the first generation of American still life artist.
A combination of found and directly carved forms gathered together to convey a message typifies many of Richard Gachot’s works. In Chicken’s Lament, 1982, hand-painted letters on the side of a crate supporting a gigantic nesting chicken announce: “Wanted, Col. Sanders, Frank Perdue, Chickens’ Public Enemies 1 & 2.” Gachot’s chicken moves up and down while Colonel Sanders barely manages to hold on to the rope around her neck. She offers a dozen eggs for the capture of her enemies, and the colonel indeed seems to be getting the worst of it. A male counterpart of this confident hen can be found on I Fertilize Eggs, 2001, whose advertised message proclaims his availability for that purpose. Notice the sickle bars that form the tail feathers, and the rebar, the feet, of his two-dimensional silhouette.
Gachot’s other works transform found objects into sculptural forms. Existing shapes can correspond to depicted subjects, or in combination, and become the equivalent to a new form, for example using an espresso maker to become a chef and a grilling coil to suggest spaghetti. Richard Gachot’s typical whimsy is also expressed in his slice of chocolate cake from a wedge of wood, cup of coffee, and a visiting mouse.