"The idea of trompe l'oeil sculpture seems to be in the air," says Phil Desind, proprietor of Bethesda's Capricorn Gallery, 8004 Norfolk Ave.
The fool-the-eye (sort of) wood sculpture of Angelo Caravaglia of Salt Lake City is currently on view at the Capricorn, at the same time Wendell Castle's wood foolers are showing at the Fendrick Gallery in Georgetown and not long after Fumio Yoshimura showed similar work at the Nancy Hoffman Gallery in SoHo in New York.
Caravaglia, a professor of art at the University of Utah, carves true-to-life objects from unfinished pine: a vacuum cleaner, a French born and a three-dimensional still-life of a table with a pot of flowers, every bit carved, including the open book of family photographs. The closest resemblance to Castle's work is Caravaglia's carved old-fashioned jacket hanging on a clothes tree.
Some of Caravaglia's pieces are simple wonders of imitation, such as the full-size saddle. The more spectacular table arrangements, however, have considerable more presence as sculpture, and with an added twist. It is not so surprising to see a table made of wood, but the writhing pots of flowers seem to deny the very substance they are made of.
Castle chooses to carve only objects that naturally are the color of wood. And his pieces, unlike Caravaglia's could, by stretching it, actually be used as furniture.For Caravaglia, however, the color is totally irrelevant, since he is less interested in fooling the eye than delighting it and calling up the essence of the object.
Nancy Hoffman, Yoshimura's dealer, said that it isn't surprising to find this new interest in illusion. It has been happening for some time in photo-realist painting, as well as sculpture - for example, the work of Duane Hanson, whose casts of people, painted and dressed, are so real as to be starting.
The Castle show at the Fendrick continues through Nov. 4. The Capricorn Gallery show continues throught Oct. 29.