A Portrait of Chuck Close by Gerard Pas and Chuck Close 2001

During the winter of 1999 Gerard made the personal acquaintance of the American artist Chuck Close.  Though he and Close had previous contact, this would be their first personal encounter with each other.  After speaking with Chuck Close in his Soho studio, Gerard asked if it would be possible to do a portraiture of him.  Chuck Close, though not exclusively a portrait painter, is generally best known for his portraiture work; as can be seen in the self portrait on the right.

"Unlike portraiture as it is generally known, I wanted this work to be radically different and thus not follow the commonly understood confines of that oeuvre.  In mine and Chuck's subsequent New York conversations, I asked Chuck if he would like to contribute to my work by donating one of his used wheelchairs to the project: to which he agreed.  I decided that the best way for me to depict how I personally know "Close" through my work, was to reinvent how most people saw him (pardon the pun).

After careful deliberations between us both, it was agreed that I would simply replace the wheels of Chuck's old wheelchair with large sawmill blades on the back and regular circular saw blades on the front.  When the work is installed in situ, it is to be place on a plinth made up of large timbers and turned on long enough to send sawdust into the gallery.

I first exhibited this sculpture/object as part of the exhibition "corpoREAL exCHANGE," presented by CrossPathCulture in association with the White Box Gallery - The Annex, New York; November, 2001. This exhibition included not only my collaboration with Chuck Close but also a large installation collaboration with Huang Chih-Yang of Taipei City, Taiwan.

Thank you for all your support on this project Chuck. I not only appreciate your keen understanding of the human condition but your deep sardonic sense of humour. You and your work are most certainly on the "cutting edge" as I hope this portrait conveys.

I would also like to give special thanks to Canon Hersey and everyone at CrossPathCulture for your confidence in my work and for making the first exhibition of this work possible.

Thanks also go to Juan Puntes of White Box - The Annex for providing exhibition space in Chelsea, New York City and for your friendship and hospitality during my tenure in this space. Thank you also Ondi McMaster for all you help at White Box Gallery.

Special thanks to New York City - you persevere while acclimatizing all states of human circumstance and thus we continue to look forward.

Gerard Pas - New York 2002
Self Portrait by Chuck Close 1997

"Self-Portrait"
by Chuck Close © 1997
Oil on canvas, 102 x 84 inches
(259 x 213.4 cm)

Visit Chuck's exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York by clicking on his image
Visit CrossPathCulture New York
Visit CrossPathCulture who made the first exhibition of this work possible. New York 2001-02.
World Trade Center Towers, New York - click to see more
Gerard created a special page of photos and thoughts on being in NYC during the fall of 2001.


... please click on any of the images below for an enlargement ...

Portrait of Chuck Close by Gerard Pas 2001 | installation at the White Box Annex, New York 2001 - Click for enlargement.
"Portrait of Chuck Close" by Gerard Pas © 2001
installation of the sculpture during the exhibition
"Corporeal Exchange" CrossPathCulture / White Box - The Annex, New York, 2001
Portrait of Chuck Close by Gerard Pas 2001 | side view - click for enlargement. Portrait of Chuck Close by Gerard Pas 2001 | side view - click for enlargement.
"I made this "Portrait of Chuck Close" sculpture/object by replacing the wheels of one of Chuck Close's personal wheelchairs with circular-saw-blades." G. Pas
Portrait of Chuck Close by Gerard Pas 2001 | side view - click for enlargement. Portrait of Chuck Close by Gerard Pas 2001 | detail - click for enlargement.
This wheelchair was used by Chuck Close in his everyday life. It was used in his Soho-New York studio to paint and for purposes of his daily life. This wheelchair was given to Pas by Chuck Close for this portraiture. After altering the wheelchair, Pas then placed it onto a plinth (stand) of large wooden timbers. Small grooves cut into the timbers by the wheels have displaced saw dust over the surface of the plinth. With this collaborative sculpture Pas and Close paradigm shift the concept of traditional portraiture into another realm -- a more dangerous and provocative one.

Portrait of Chuck Close by Gerard Pas 2001 | detail - click for enlargement. Portrait of Chuck Close by Gerard Pas 2001 | detail - click for enlargement. Portrait of Chuck Close by Gerard Pas 2001 | detail - click for enlargement.
The wheelchair Chuck Close gave Pas was covered in various colours of paint which Close had used over the course of working on his own paintings. As can be seen in the image to the left, Close' splattered paint can still be seen on different surfaces of the chair as well as the sawdust beneath the blades.
When Pas began to deconstruct the original wheelchair, he found that Close's chair had gathered hairs around the wheels axles. Whose hair, Chuck Close', his family's or just from people around the studio or on the streets? No one knows - but its fun to guess! As you can imagine, axles or spindles with such proximity to the ground collect hairs and other materials such as threads. Pas decided to leave these hairs from the original axles when he reassembled his portraiture.

Portrait of Chuck Close by Gerard Pas 2001 | installation at the CrossPathCulture Centere, New York 2002 - click for enlargement.
"Portrait of Chuck Close" by Gerard Pas © 2001
installation of the sculpture during the exhibition
"All Access" CrossPathCulture Centre, New York, 2001-02
Portrait of Chuck Close by Gerard Pas 2001 | side view - click for enlargement. Portrait of Chuck Close by Gerard Pas 2001 | top view - click for enlargement.
After exhibiting this work at the White Box Annex in Chelsea, New York, Gerard realized that his installation elevated the chair, if not into a safe mode, certainly a formal one. For his installation at CrossPathCulture's Time Square location (in the heart of New York), he decided to make the work a lot more dangerous by changing the organization of the plinth for which the work was placed. Now it was as though the circular saw blade wheels had already cut some serious pieces of lumber. The work was also theatrically lit by professional Broadway technicians to give it even more of an edge.

Portrait of Chuck Close by Gerard Pas 2001 | side view - click for enlargement. Portrait of Chuck Close by Gerard Pas 2001 | side view - click for enlargement. Portrait of Chuck Close by Gerard Pas 2001 | side view - click for enlargement.
Gerard's work is seductive in it's presentation and dangerous in it's reality. Together with the colours and surfaces, this work stands alone on the cutting edge of contemporary art and this is who Chuck Close is to Gerard. With Gerard's and Chuck's disabilities this work will hopefully reflect a true understanding of 'disabled art' as 'disabled art'. No one will ever look at art made from or in a wheelchair the same again!

Vision of Utopia - 1986 make your own comparison bewteen these two works Portrait of Chuck Close - 2001
This portrait project - collaboration with Chuck Close is not the first or the last time that Gerard has used the motif of wheelchair in his art. We found it uncanny how this sculpture was almost a deconstruction of an earlier painting which he had done in the late eighties "Vision of Utopia". Its as though all of the artifice in the painting has somehow fallen down under the wheels, beneath the sculpture.

To see more of Gerard's work from this period of his production as seen in "The Late Eighties Gallery" please click here.

"Portrait of Chuck Close"
Quicktime and Flash Movies
by Gerard Pas © 2001 - 2002

Gerard's made several movies of this sculpture using differing perspectives, so that you could see the work from different angles. Additionally, a Flash animation was also undertaken in advance of the project to convey a concept of what the work would look like finished. Please click on the above image to view a selection of these dynamic media.

See Gerard's other portrait of Chuck Close in the Friends Gallery - click here
"Portrait of Chuck Close" by Gerard Pas © 2000
Gerard also created a digital portrait of Chuck Close in the year preceding this sculpture. It's in the "Friends Gallery" of GerardPas.com

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