Intimate and Opaque: Art by Charles Ray

A steel sculpture of a truck pressed into a baleBaled Truck, stainless steel

Sculptor Charles Ray works with familiar forms and objects, playing with scale, texture, and process to address a variety of ideas through interactions with the art. Ray is known for rendering human forms in realistic detail to create sculptures that are both intimate and opaque.

A statue of a giant woman in a 90's style power suitFall '91, mixed media

Browsing through images of Ray’s sculptures, I’m reminded of works by Christina A. West. The level of detail and accuracy in each sculpture is impressive to behold, and I find I’m drawn to the sculptures on that basis alone. Like with West’s work, though, it’s the artist’s choices when it comes to materials, symbolism, and even pose that demand a longer examination.


Though detailed in the manner of a regal, Greek statue, these figures lack the stately attitudes of monuments – rather, the focus seems to be on a sense of discomfort, or vulnerability. Sometimes it’s inherent in the posture and expression of a figure, other times the works evoke discomfort in their viewers.

A painted fiberglass relief of two figuresLight from the left, painted fiberglass

Written by: Dallas Jeffs
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