Stephen Daly illustrates the relationships of man and woman……… to each other,
to science and to nature. Daly’s exhibition explores the complications and
implications of communicating and relating in modern times.
Irony and paradox abound in Daly’s work. Both figurative and abstract, his art
reflects such dualities as chaos and order, hostility and vulnerability, pessimism
and optimism. His work can be at once humorous and unsettling for its cynicism.
If a work is powerful enough to remain in the viewer’s memory bank, then it has
been a success, according to Daly. His very conscious desire to engage the viewer
is achieved in the way the spectator is not only drawn in, but feels himself to be
one element framed within the enclosed space. We are involved as we instinctively
gaze in the direction the subject indicates.
Though in the midst of a revolutionary time in communications technology, we are
more isolated than ever. Daly questions the relevance of language in works such
as The Wall and Self Contained Critic. In these computer-generated prints, the
subjects are imprisoned or isolated by their own muddled remittances.
Other works such as He Said…She Said (Commingling), handle the condition of
contemporary human beings with more optimism. Man and Woman are finally connected
as evidenced by their fluid and intertwined dialogue, their eye contact and the
proximity of their bodies. Daly describes his figurative sculptures as “situational
Daly’s “hybrids” or “drawn sculptures” defy our traditional concept of space and
form as they weave between the two-dimensional and the three-dimensional. Daly
combines the static nature of sculpture with the more atmospheric and gestural
qualities of drawing. “The dialogue between the two different kinds of form in
flat and dimensional space can be more engaging than either used alone,” Daly
states. The diptych Energy and Theory juxtaposes the two mediums suggesting the
importance of physical reality rather than theoretical reality. Daly has created
these hybrids in his attempt to satisfy the age-old dilemma of making the viewer
a part of the artist’s creation. His formula is simple, the viewer is the foreground,
the cast and painted “elements” of the still life are the middle ground, and the
drawing becomes the background. Double Still Life is direct and formal in this
type of presentation. In this diptych format, the drawing in the left half of
the composition is a flat depiction of lightly colored flowers in a pot. The
three-dimensional sculpted elements make up the right half of the composition
and are cleverly attached to the surface of the picture plane and extend into
the viewer’s space. These elements are a stark contrast to the drawing, in that
they are painted black and are robust in their shape and design. The effect is
elegant and playfully surreal!
Still Life With Pink Lips and Speaking to the Plants are vivid and colorful ink,
watercolor and collage works that address our human need to appreciate nature on
an aesthetic level as well as to protect it for the resources it provides.
Daly’s influences include the European Surrealists Max Ernst and Joan Miro as well
as Eduardo Paolozzi, whose metaphorical hybrids also combined the abstract, the
figurative and the classical. Exposure to vast amounts of historical and
contemporary art during lengthy periods in Italy led to Daly’s incorporating
classical and contemporary elements.
A Professor of Art at the University of Texas at Austin since 1981, Daly’s work is
currently being exhibited as part of a group show entitled “Mutamentum” that will
be touring Italy and Germany for the next two years. He just completed a solo
exhibition at the Polytecnic University in Valencia, Spain, as well as group shows
at Blue Star Art Space in San Antonio and Havu Gallery in Denver. A recipient of
the prestigious Prix de Rome in Sculpture, Daly’s works are in the permanent
collections of the Oakland Art Museum, the American Academy in Rome, The McNay
Art Museum, the Sheinbaum Foundation among numerous other public and private
collections. Stephen Daly has been exhibiting at William Campbell Contemporary
Art since 1985.