The York Dispatch

Please Touch - By Sheila Carmody

Local Artist Asks Patrons to Participate. Texture, Strength of Work is Important to Sculptor.

Wayne Leal has considered doing something few artists would do - posting "please touch" signs next to his artwork. He is a relief sculptor, and his work with its rough surfaces begs to be touched. For that reason - and because, strength of construction or "solidity" is important to him - Leal goes to great lengths to reinforce his objects d'art. He uses heavy layers of sand, stones, rope, wood, bark, etc. washed with glue and several coats of monochromatic paints to cover the surface of what can only be described as his textured landscapes.

Originally from London, England, Leal now lives in rural Pennsylvania. "I have worked and lived in cities all my life, and it was very stimulating. But these days I find the natural beauty of the countryside and the solitude to be equally inspiring," he says, sitting in his Hallam studio. "I prefer to work here, but Baltimore is where I am showing primarily." Leal is not the only artist migrating to the countryside. It's something of a trend he noted. "I know four artists living between here and Lancaster."

Leal moved from England to Baltimore in 1980 and in 1982 he enrolled at the Maryland Institute College of Art, where he idolized textural artists such as Dubuffet, Giacometti, Riley, Springer, friedman, etc. He veered away from painting after a professor introduced him to plaster and how he could build up textures with the medium in combination with other material. Through the use of plaster, Leal's paintings became sculptures, most of which are finished in black or dark grey paints. Because his work is so simplistic, some people consider it as minimal, which he likes.

He is drawn to the "endless textural variations that exist within the organic and synthetic environments." Using plaster, sand, sticks, metal, mesh and stone, he attempts to mimic nature. "I wish in a way I could do what nature can do." The bark on a tree, a pile of torn masonite, a crack in the sidewalk can stimulate Leal's senses. "I get flashes of inspiration while I'm working on my pieces. It's almost as if I am following a blueprint of my subconcious."

"There is nothing symbolic about my work. No social or political statements. I work toward simplicity via the complexity of my textures. Interpretation is left up to audience. I love hearing people tell me what a given piece evokes within them."

Wayne Leal, artist, creates minimalist bas relief sculptures, using various textures and monochromatic paints in combination with light, leaving interpretation and inspiration for the viewer.