Hilton | Asmus Contemporary presents “Somewhere Within” a joint exhibition featuring Canadian sculptor Blake Ward and his long-time partner and co-creator Boky Hackel-Ward. Opening reception: Thursday, May 23, 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm at Hilton | Asmus Contemporary, 716 N. Wells Street, Chicago, 60654.
Abstraction versus objectivity and an immaterial world that exists beyond the obvious….in Mikhail Larionov’s words to Natalia Goncharova in 1900: “Open your eyes to your eyes” are the beginning of a tremendous love story and artistic collaboration between what would one day become a husband and wife creative entity. Each with their own road to follow yet passing through all the stages of love that culminate in the lyrical. “Open your eyes to your eyes” is a sentiment that very much mirrors the creative development and story of Blake Ward and Boky Hackel-Ward.
"Somewhere Within" will be the first time that Blake Ward and Boky Hackel-Ward will be showing together as co-creators. Blake Ward’s new works illustrate his contemporary approach to figurative sculpture with a contrarian break from formal academicism. Ward challenges the classical figure by exposing the interior evoking a dialogue between our internal and external selves.
German-born Boky Hackel began life as a conceptual artist, photographer, musician, writer and poet. As a conceptualist and a polyglot, language had always been extremely important in her work.
It was Blake who introduced her to sculpture. He asked her to do some gold leafing on some bronze pieces because he knew that she had been an old master paintings restorer in Italy. This assignment became the catalyst to her development as a sculptor.
“I suppose our collaboration is a result of the love that we have for one another. From the very beginning we have always tried to teach one another and share our knowledge. We each bring different things to the table; the sculpture techniques, the conceptual, the wax and the clay, we share this beautiful life together. Without the art we would be lost!” states Boky.
Blake & Boky met at a wedding where they were both witnesses; he for the groom; she for the bride. While three years passed before they met again, that day changed each of their destinies.
In March 2013, Blake & Boky began working together. Having been an old master paintings restorer, Boky did the gilding on a Phantom .
Blake taught Boky the techniques he used in building his sculpture and Boky shared with Blake her knowledge and experience as a conceptual artist. The synergy was evident as they began to create together. It quickly turned into an incredible love story.
One day, as Boky returned from the studio after an orchestra rehearsal, she found Blake holding up a sculpture that the she had built in the style of his work. He looked at her and said, “Sign it….there is nothing I can do to make it better.” The sculpture was an Ushabti called “Hathor - Goddess of Love”. Blake created an inner structure for it, built a dream catcher and ultimately, they both signed the piece. From that point on, they worked incessantly, creating well over 20 sculptures per year, signing them and shipping them off to their galleries in Canada and the US.
In 2015 they exhibited at Point Art Monaco at the Grimaldi Forum when the Monaco Matin ran a story featuring their love story and their work. It was an artistic collaboration made in heaven.
Not everybody saw it that way. They had no idea of what was to follow….
Their publicist was hired to work alongside their employee in Canada. They were to assist with the various marketing campaigns throughout Canada and the US. They were also expected to help present the Blake & Boky collaboration to the public.
On Valentine’s Day 2015, at the vernissage of Blake’s exhibition at the Canadian Sculpture Society, he publicly announced that the new work presented was not his alone but a result of his collaboration with Boky.
Immediately, the publicist called an urgent meeting where he strongly discouraged Blake from telling anyone about the collaboration. It would hurt his career, he said. There were many arguments regarding this and their employee in Canada backed the publicist 100%. They relentlessly tried to dissuade Blake from following his instinct. Boky’s contribution was to continue ghost writing his blogs every three days, but nothing more, and no credit should be given there either.
In short time, Blake fired the publicist and the employee retired. He gave Boky credit not only for her writing but also for her creative contributions. It was almost too late. The damage to their artistic synergy was serious, but their love and devotion to each other ran deeper.
After much soul searching, today Blake and Boky are married and working together in perfect synergy. Boky has a separate collection of her own work.
Their happy places include the studio and their foundries in Italy, France and Canada. There they continue to grow and flourish together as a creative team. His work, her work, and their work… They are two separate artists but sometimes one plus one makes for an even stronger one.
Her collection Figurative Poetry is all about making the hurt subside. It is what Blake calls Intentional Art, art with a purpose; it is about healing.
Today, Blake and Boky collaborate, yet each has their own independent work as well. Blake has thrown himself into the digital world of Z-brush and 3D printing, mixing the digital with the analogue, the state of the art with the ancient lost wax techniques.
While building on the techniques of figurative sculpture lost in antiquity, Ward remains true to their representational qualities, yet his sculptures are a transgression of the rules, crossing over into the abstract and ethereal realms of our inner worlds. Ward’s 1/4 life-size, partial figures materialize before us. Both seductive and tragic, their perfect proportions reflect the hidden perspectives of our human condition. The textured exterior surface alludes to the complexity of our individuality. The open, exposed interior elicits introspection. Holding fast to his love of the human figure, Ward leads us toward self-discovery.
Ward received his Fine Arts Degree from the University of Alberta in 1979 and went on to study classical figurative sculpture in Paris until 1989, when he moved to his current studio in Monte Carlo. When he was invited to teach at the University of Hanoi in 2003, Ward began a journey combining art and activism. His work evolved a bold socio-political voice calling out to our humanitarian dreams of justice, truth, and equality and he has been a positive force raising funds and awareness for the eradication of landmines. Blake and Boky's works have shown in Monaco, England, Germany, Italy, Singapore, Hong Kong, Delhi, The United States, and Canada including many public installations in the principality of Monaco, where he and Boky currently reside, including Princess Grace’s Rose Garden. Their work is also in the private collections of Prince Albert of Monaco, Herb Alpert, Gerry Moss among others.
“SOMEWHERE WITHIN” runs from Thursday, May 23, 2019, until June 12, 2019.
HILTON ASMUS CONTEMPORARY • 716 N. Wells Chicago • 312.852.8200 or firstname.lastname@example.org