Jon Buck has always regarded colour as one of the sensory delights of the human experience. Whilst colour is not traditionally associated with sculpture, Buck has spent much of his career experimenting and exploring its impact and ability to enhance sculpture.
When Buck first began exhibiting in London in the early eighties, his highly coloured resin and glass fibre works led him to be shown together with a group of disparate artists whose highly realistic work coined the term ‘superhumanism’. Whilst successful, he soon realised that his materials were inadequate for outdoor works and so began his long and fruitful collaboration with the bronze foundry, Pangolin Editions.
At this time, the palette available to artists in terms of patina was a dull and subdued range of browns and greens and in order to keep the work dynamic Buck had to alter his approach by developing the surfaces of his forms either with small repeated motifs or unusual textures. Working with Rungwe Kingdon at Pangolin Editions, Buck began to experiment with patinas. Together they discovered new vibrant reds, electric blues and soft flesh-coloured pinks as well as investigating the possibilities of incorporating raw pigments to the surfaces and painted lines drawn directly into the form itself. Through this close collaboration Buck gained the confidence to break free from the traditional constraints of bronze casting and has over recent years produced a unique and vibrant body of painted bronzes.
These innovations have also allowed Buck’s sculptures to become less naturalistic and to develop a more distilled reality. Among Buck’s cast of personal totems the bird holds a particular significance and as Buck himself describes, this can be traced back to his childhood:
The first arresting aesthetic experience that I can recall occurred when I was about eight or nine; it was seeing a bird. I was stopped in my tracks by a jolting flash of intense sulphur-yellow pulsating against a Mayday blue sky and underscored by a verdant swathe of translucent hazel. I had no name for this bird or indeed for the emotion it evoked but I knew then the event had a major significance for me...This encounter led to ‘the bird’ and art being intrinsically intertwined in my mind ever since and the fact that the guidebook’s colour plates did not come close to representing my experience demonstrates the essential gap between perception and reality.
Buck’s influences have been many but central to his work has always been his interest in Man’s connection to the natural world. In art he has always believed in some sort of visual lingua franca and has been fascinated with art outside the Western tradition, in particular African sculpture. In addition, the art of prehistory, outsider art and the drawings of children have all affected his way of thinking about making art. Jon Buck studied at Nottingham and Manchester Art Schools. He has completed numerous public commissions and has exhibited widely. He lives and works in Bath and is represented by Pangolin.