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Richard Deacon: Beyond Explanation
by John O'Brien

Last winter at L.A. Louver, Richard Deacon, in association with Matthew Perry, premiered Dead Leg (2007), a new large-scale sculpture composed of twisting, elongated sections of oak and custom-fabricated, stainless steel couplings, and the work later traveled to the Portland Art Museum. At eight feet high and 28 feet long, the work displays a marvelously deft spatial gyration and superb material transmutation. In characteristic Deacon style, Dead Leg combines diverse materials into an abstract, airy composition in which fluidity and grace belie the difficult technical processes behind their fluency. During a multi-year forming process, vapor-softened wood is inserted into unique jigs and then incrementally coaxed into diverse forms. The time-consuming labor that keeps the wood from splintering or shattering on release is documented in a rather beautiful set of time-lapse photos and a QuickTime movie <>. The resulting work consists of twisted and bent lengths of two-by-twos bound together in groups of four or two, the form regulated by metal splints and nodes that govern the aggregation and directional flow of the assembled oak stock.

Dead Leg, 2007.
Oak and stainless steel, 8 x 28 x 9 ft.

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