August 24, 2023
Through a process of meticulous design, laser-cutting, and layering, Gabriel Schama creates incredibly detailed reliefs from thin plywood (previously). His work has focused on symmetrical, mandala-like forms with countless undulating patterns, and in recent years, he’s begun to explore more narrative themes, placing figures and objects into fantastical compositions. In new works, otherworldly birds careen in a flurry of feathers, a bottle of potion roils, and a hanging unit on a wall doubles as a holster for a sword.
One major project that took Schama several months to complete was a pair of panels installed on monumental doors. “The real feat was figuring out how to break the design down into smaller pieces, hiding the seams between the panels in the lines of the design and making the whole thing foolproof for some team of people on the other side of the world to install,” he tells Colossal.
Over the past few years, Schama has experimented with different colored stains to enhance the compositions but struggled to find results he was happy with. Then, he unexpectedly stumbled upon new techniques and now incorporates varying hues. He says, “I have an old bias towards not obscuring the inherent qualities of the wood, hence sticking to ‘natural’ wood tones for so long, but I have become pretty obsessed with this really vibrant purple pigment I just found.”
Schama has been working on a large chapel- or temple-like structure, with Burning Man in mind. “Every time I’ve posted images of the scale maquettes I’ve made, people go out of their way to offer their help building it,” he says. The artist is also producing smaller pieces to be released as numbered editions this fall. You can follow Instagram for updates, and explore more work on his website.
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