Artist StatementIn contrast to many of his contemporaries, Chris Bathgate’s use of metal is neither structural nor illusionistic. It does not refuse to transform the medium, and it does not play on the medium’s opposites, e.g. lightness from metal’s weight, or organic forms from its rigidity. Bathgate’s process most closely resembles that of a machine builder or engineer. In the last two years, he has become increasingly involved in using mathematical techniques. This has allowed him to achieve the high degree of precision necessary for assembling such intricate works (these sculptures are not cast). The result is indeed a transformation-the pieces fit together in such a way that they cease to appear man-made, and yet in spite of this lack of bumpiness or personal touch emanate a presence that is unmistakable and engaging. Bathgate’s entities are like instances of a foreign intelligence. Being uninhibited by pretensions to flesh, these sculptures call a type of ‘creature feeling’ reflecting their intellectual (as opposed to emotional) humanism. According to Bathgate, every sculpture is an experiment in response to an abstract opposed to pragmatic problem-it does not work towards a presumed result. From the point of view of the process, a finished work is not an end in itself but a place that one goes to.
Chris Bathgate is a self-taught machinist sculptor who was born in 1980 in Baltimore, Maryland. He still currently works and resides in Baltimore and has spent the last decade learning how to build and use a variety of metal working tools and machinery. He has assembled an elaborate machine shop of repurposed and home made machine tools, along with a multitude of other equipment and inventions in the basement studio of his Baltimore home. His body of work is a collection of intricately machined metal sculptures that represent the combination of his unique metalworking style with a traditional approach to sculpture. By combining the math and logistics used in performing the complex tasks of modern machine work with a more emotive and aesthetic problem-solving ethic, Bathgate’s work shows that it is not creativity alone that drives human imagination, but also the need to solve and overcome problems that lead to inspiration. Be it through the necessity of his process or arbitrary guidelines set by the artist himself, each work becomes a creative response to a series of mathematical and subjective visual parameters. The result is a precise and other worldly art object that exudes a creative logic all its own. Chris’s work was most recently featured in Popular mechanics magazine in Russia and In 2007, was awarded grants from the prestigious Pollock-Krasner Foundation and the Creative Baltimore Grant. He was also a semi-finalist for the Trawick Prize of Bethesda and his work is in numerous private collections across the United States. His works have been exhibited in galleries in New York City, Brooklyn, San Diego, Cincinnati, Washington DC, Maryland and North Carolina. Chris is currently a member of the Chelsea artist co-op Viridian Artist, Inc. He is also a member of the International Sculpture Center, Washington Sculptors Group, and Baltimore Sculptors Group