Born 1973 in Oakland, California; lives in Los Angeles, California
The sculptor Jedediah Caesar’s invented medium is an amalgam of found objects encased in clear or colored resin, which he began creating in late 2003, when it occurred to him that he was more interested in materials themselves than in constructing sculptures with them. In an act of metaphorical rebirth, he filled buckets and other containers with leftover scraps of plywood, along with paper, pieces of cloth, and other assorted studio debris. He poured in liquid resin, and when it hardened he removed solid masses of an essentially new kind of material. He later went on to fill cardboard boxes with bottles, cups, sponges, socks, and other objects that he fused together with resin, and then took the resulting blocks of material to a factory outside Los Angeles where he had them cut with band saws, finally polishing the surfaces to reveal the embedded components trapped like flies in translucent amber.
The faceted cut-resin blocks, which he exhibits alone or in stacked groupings, have been likened to geodes and marbled agate. Their variegated compositions allude to the “allover” abstraction of certain Abstract Expressionists, and when cut into cubes and rectilinear forms they replace the pristine geometry of Minimalism with a chaos of matter in space. “Encasing everything in resin puts things at the same material level, but reveals a pre-functional object materiality,” the artist notes. “It’s like destroying the meaning of a thing and reengaging with another meaning of it at the same time.” Recently, he has sliced his resin blocks into rectangular panels and mounted them in rows on the wall, allowing the viewer to follow the embedded objects from one cross-sectioned tile to the next, like the frames of a film. An untitled 2007 piece includes a full-size lounge chair elevated on a wooden platform and rendered useless by an accumulation of debris on the seat and around it; another untitled work from 2007 incorporates various natural materials encased in resin to form a freestanding block, its sides cut smooth, with palm branches, flowers, and wood sprouting from the top like plants from a core sample of earth.
“I am trying to physicalize concepts,” the artist
says of his work, “like the sense of material as vibrating
elements subdivided into tinier and tinier particles—
the closeness of one thing to another.” Sensual and
intellectually stimulating, Caesar’s singular works
seduce us with their beauty while inviting us to question
the nature of materials, objects, and space. JASON EDWARD KAUFMAN