There are several shapes and forms that pervade in an artist’s mind through their lives and recur in their compositions. There are the elliptical compositions of Raphael, the egg form in Brancusi’s work and the straight black line of Mondrian to name but a few.
Two shapes Michael Binkley continues to pursue are the pear and the elliptical forms. In the sculpture “Gesture and Flow,” the sculptor uses the ellipse as the outside edge of the composition. This piece is part of a series of elliptical forms that Binkley sketched that include an opening in the form that reveals a variety of other forms. These are akin to an egg hatching.
This sculpture is an ellipse set on end and a curvilinear opening cuts across the top. The negative space reveals two spheres – one large with a matte finish, the other smaller with a highly polished surface. A smooth, highly polished piece of nephrite jade wraps around the front of the larger sphere and appears to be a leaf, or a piece of seaweed. The insides of the negative opening are crosshatched with a fine toothed rake chisel and the outside surface of the sculpture is a smooth, matte surface.
Binkley has carved the sculpture from white marble from the Petacchi quarry that is in the mountains above the famous town of Carrara, Italy. The artist liked the monochromatic white and contrasted it with the rich, deep green of the nephrite jade that the leaf form is carved from. Jade is translucent, and one can see the edges of the leaf that seem to glow as a result of light coming through from behind.
Matte surfaces allow for stone to hold shadow in a way that highly polished stone cannot, and having shadows in this sculpture was important to Binkley. There is an interested dichotomy of the rough, small shadows cast by the crosshatched areas against those softer, broad shadows of the ellipse and the sphere. But some stones loose their interest unless highly polished, and nephrite jade really only comes alive when it is polished to a high, gleaming sheen. It also pops against the matte white marble. Binkley set the sculpture on a circular base of charcoal grey Italian granite.