STOCKBRIDGE, MASS.- Drills, pliers, paint, colored pencils, notebooks filled with formulaic time tables and chemistry notations for electroplating, knives and the rubber masking material for sandblasting glass, sketches of form and patterns, not to forget the red hot glory hole and the bench where José Chardiet is seated sculpting a blown form. José Chardiet loves to use all the tools in his toolbox to create his art.
Given a peek into Chardiets Rhode Island studio, one can begin to understand the many steps this artist takes to design and make each series of his repertoire. Beginning with research and inspiration, Jose drafts meticulous diagrams of pattern or design on paper, sometimes working as a jeweler with wire to render decorative elements. On one table, a grouping of three vessels seem to swell with pride for their own wire drawings and luscious, fruit like colors. Waiting nearby are blown and acid etched elements to be assembled into a still life that takes on an anthropomorphic narrative. Stacked to the ceiling, in the far corner, large black form used for making the plaster molds into which Jose will cast glass, while blown and sculpted crystal clear glass teapots reflect the afternoon sun in the other corner.
The diversity of his work allows José to continue to stay fresh and excited about his process in order to explore new ideas about design while exploring deeper emotions. Take, for example, Ancestors. Chardiet continues to categorize these as still lifes (probably his best known series) and, indeed, in a loose kind of way they are objects set across (and often into!) a table-like surface. But even the titles of some recent pieces indicate his awareness that these are more familial studies, of objects/personages interacting psychologically, socially and generationally. His objectscharacters?almost rise to narrative, they become actors in little dramatic vignettes that are very absorbing, very attentive to gender roles, reminding one at times of Degas group portraits of families, and a little of Chardin, for whom the concept of still life as embodied and evoked just about everything under the sun, even, sometimes, matter of the deepest import.
Chardiet often speaks of how influenced he was by seeing a major exhibition in Detroit (It was the Primitivism in 20th Century Art show that traveled there from MOMA) shortly after finishing graduate school. There Ancestors-1 webwas a lot to absorb in that exhibition, and among the things it revealed to Chardiet was that modern art remained a pertinent and dynamic vehicle for expression and meaning, that it still spoke to the fundamental mysteries of who and what we are. His work continues the quest to seek that continuum, and it is our good fortune that he so often finds it.