Willard Boepple American, b. 1945

“I am an abstract sculptor and I believe in the power of wordless, unadorned visual relationships, movements in space to create and evoke soaring sensations of love and discovery.” 


Internationally recognised as a leading contemporary abstractionist, Willard Boepple is highly regarded for an extensive oeuvre of sculpture and works on paper created over the course of over fifty years. Boepple’s graphic work in particular is distinguished by a combination of complex layering of form with a distilled and harmonic sense of geometry. Colour and intersection of shape and line create movement and a moving architecture made of light and transparent hue. 


A sense of kinetic experimentation within pared down geometric shapes and forms is reflected in the artist’s fascinating and creative process for making a print. This begins with a drawing made through the arrangement of shapes and movements where forms “abut, bend, slide and fold adjacent to other shapes and become another shape entirely.” 


The printmaking series are in fact a variation on the original drawing and the next stage takes place when the image is broken down into its component shapes. The deconstructed shapes from the original drawing are transferred onto the screen and paper and coloured ink is squeezed through the shape on the screen and onto the paper and repeated for each shape. The artist notes that this first inking is only the beginning and shares that they will return to the process: “It is during this building process, the layering of the colours, that exploration of the image or form takes place -  changing, strengthening, and layering different colours into each shape and sometimes cropping off bits of a shape. Typically, we will work on a group of a dozen sheets at a time and working directly in this fashion, we will make changes from sheet to sheet.”


Indeed, it is within these moments of construction and deconstruction that one can see the relationship between Boepple’s graphic work and his sculptural practice. The play with colour and space is not confined to paper but reflects the process of making the print, the layering and emerging of colour and by extension seems to as well mirror the play of structure, colour and voids as seen in the artist’s sculptural forms. While of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, Boepple’s work has a modernist classicism to it, the elegance of voids, of juxtaposition, the use of chance and repetition to create pure and beautiful formulas of structure, architecture and constellation.


Rosa JH Berland