He is the very antithesis of instant gratification. Potts was 30 when he got his first taste of what it means to be an artist. His artist brother Don enlisted him to work on a mechanical sculpture he called ‘My First Car’, which went on to tour America’s top art galleries.
However, it took another forty years before Potts had his first solo exhibition by which time he was a spritely 69 year old. He spent the interim decades preparing himself to become the artist he is today. Life as a carpenter, musician, mechanic and builder of mechanical ball sculptures for another artist honed his talent, skills and artistic temperament.
The M.A.D.Gallery was able to reap the fruits of his patience and perseverance, as we had the privilege to exhibit seven of Potts’ kinetic sculptures: Ascension, Pursuit II, G-Plane, Wings, Synchronous Cycle, Denizen of the Deep and Cosmographic Voyager. Of these seven pieces, Synchronous Cycle, Cosmographic Voyager and Denizen of the Deep still grace our gallery, as the rest have been united with their new owners.
The artist’s mechanical sculptures capture the inherent beauty of movement in nature such as the graceful flight of birds, streamlined movement of fish or rhythmic motion of the oars of a boat.
“The grace and form of all living things, and the way they interact, leaves me in awe. The best way for me to complement this phenomenon is to reach for my pallet consisting of gears, cranks, sliders, levers, links, etc. to create kinetic sculptures,” he says.
Potts’ art is much like his life. He does not try to force his art to reveal itself before it is ready. This artist can take up to a year to complete one piece and most of the time the final result is very different from what he envisioned in the beginning.
“Sometimes I have an end in mind and look for the mechanism that will deliver what I desire. Most of the time the piece changes and grows during the process. This part of the development can be most rewarding”, he reveals.
A true master makes the difficult seem easy and Potts is no exception. Despite the technical complexity of his sculptures, the resulting movements are surprisingly minimalist. The whole effect is very soothing to the eye and mind, inviting us to stare at the sculptures for hours and forget all our problems.
Witnessing Bob Potts’ kinetic sculptures first hand, it is easy to imagine that they are “alive” and not mechanical. You really have to see it to believe it!