International Sculpture Center
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Sculpture cover




April 2014
Vol. 33 No. 3

A publication of the
International Sculpture Center
Laguna Beach, California - Jan Maarten Voskuil: The Peter Blake Gallery
by Roberta Carasso
Jan Maarten Voskuil’s work probes the nature of dimensionality with an expanded vision that liberates aesthetic solutions from what was thought possible. Consequently, his sculpted paintings or painted sculptures are hybrid forms. Sometimes they rely on a reductive plane of flat painted color integrated with abstracted volume; other times, parallel modular planes are designed to stand erect much like architecture, as light penetrates through open layers of canvas. Forms reside on walls, floors, ceilings, and in every combination. ...see the entire review in the print version of April's Sculpture magazine.

Jan Maarten Voskuil, Loop, 2007. Acrylic and linen, approx. 300 x 700 x 900 cm.
Laguna Beach, California - Tanya Aguiñiga: Laguna Art Museum
by Collette Chattopadhyay
Tanya Aguiñiga, who works at the intersection of furniture design, craft, and fine art, recently created a powerful installation that reveals her extensive knowledge of the sea. Based on the complexity and specificity of this temporary work, it is fair to say that this MFA graduate from the Rhode Island School of Design is not only a talented artist, but also a dedicated environmentalist and an experienced scuba diver. The selection of the Laguna Art Museum as the venue for this installation was astute, bringing together her interests as an artist who cares about the environment not only on the land, but also within the ocean. ...see the entire review in the print version of April's Sculpture magazine.

Tanya Aguiñiga, Sea Change, 2013. Mixed media, dimsensions variable.
Washington D.C.- "Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor in the Arts of Africa": National Museum of African Art
by Sarah Tanguy
With dagger raised, a nail-studded, 19th-century nkisi nkondi by an unknown Yombe artist stood guard, while beyond, the evil boss in William Kentridge’s 1991 animated film Mine raged over his desk. These were just two works from the astonishing array in “Earth Matters,” an all-media survey featuring more than 40 artists from 25 African nations. Somber, dense, and often blunt, this landmark exhibition traced Africa’s complicated and evolving engagement with the land while seeking to redress its absence from the Western-driven discourse on Land Art. Rather than following a chronological separation of functional and non-functional forms, cur­ator Karen E. Milbourne mixed traditional, modern, and contemporary in a provocative repartee to reveal Africa’s rich contribution to global art practice. The notion of transformation ran through the entire show, which considered the earth as a pliable material capable of transmitting energy and power...see the entire review in the print version of April's Sculpture magazine.

Pare or Zigua artist from Tanzania, Untitled figure, 19th-early 20th century. Terra cotta, fabric, fibers, and resin. 23.2 x 10.8 x 8.9 cm.
Miama - Ai Weiwei: Pérez Art Museum Miami
by Jan Garden Castro
A 2007 ceramic work in Ai Weiwei’s blockbuster exhibition “According to What?” emblazons a Neolithic Chinese vessel with a silver Coca-Cola logo painted over original decorative motifs of people and turtles holding hands. Though this act could be called commercialization or desecration, to me, the work aims to unite popular taste with ancient ties to earth, nature, and humanity. Ai follows this strategy throughout the show, each time calling attention to and transforming something ancient or material, with one exception— a high, long wall crowded with the names of thousands of children killed when poorly built school buildings collapsed during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. The government tried to cover up Ai’s and other investigations of these unreported deaths and beat the artist so severely that he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in 2009. He has been restricted from leaving China for more than three years. ...see the entire review in the print version of April's Sculpture magazine.


Ai Weiwei, installation view of "According to What?," 2013.
Boston- Florian Dombois: Boston University
by Jane Ingram Allen
uboc No. 1 & stuVi2, a four-day public art installation by Swiss artist Florian Dombois, was on view from sunset until 2 a.m. during the TransCultural Exchange’s third biennial conference on international opportunities for artists. The theme for the conference was “Engaging Minds,” and curator Mary Sherman, founder and director of Trans­Cultural Exchange, invited Dombois to create this site-specific piece as a symbol of the conference’s underlying mission to emphasize the importance of art in making cross-cultural connections. The title of the installation, uboc No. 1 & stuVi2, refers to the two Bos­ton University buildings connected by Dombois’s laser light beam. The Boston University School of Law Tower, a concrete structure designed in 1964 by Modernist architects Sert, Jackson, and Gourley, is called the ugliest building on campus by students—hence “uboc No. 1.” Dombois says that he actually finds it kind of beautiful, an iconic example of Modernist architecture. The other building, recently constructed student housing, is a more generic steel structure. These buildings from different eras are similar in style, rather like a modern father and postmodern son. Dom­bois’s installation helped to underscore the similarities between the two, connecting them across time and space. Though he considers this work post-conceptual, he wanted a tangible object for his concept. The light beam became a trigger to imagine the sculpture. The connected buildings were the sculpture, too ..see the entire review in the print version of April's Sculpture magazine.

Florian Dombois, uboc No. 1 & stuVi2, 2013. Laser, rangemeter, Web site and mobile phone app, and 2 buildings.
Boston - Jessica Straus: Boston Sculptors Gallery
by Jane Ingram Allen
“Scrap!,” a recent exhibition by Boston artist Jessica Straus, was quirky and fun and full of surprises in its celebration of the inventive spirit. For this new series of works, Straus repurposed wooden clementine crates—thin plywood boxes printed with brightly colored graphics. She used packaging from the two most common brands, Darling and Bagu, cutting and mixing them into wall, floor, and pedestal sculptures. The gaily colored and patterned wood pieces were combined with found metal objects and salvaged parts. This work continues Straus’s exploration of small sculptures that meld intricate woodworking with found metal objects in imaginative configurations. Her technical skill with both metal and wood is evident in these well-crafted sculptures. There is always the touch of the artist’s hand, and one is struck by how much time and attention she pays to the details, but her inventiveness and creative play truly make this work intriguing and delightful ...see the entire review in the print version of April's Sculpture magazine.


Jessica Straus, Ready and Waiting, 2013. Wood, paint, and found objects. 21 x 110 x 159 in.
Lincoln, Massachusetts - Tony Feher: deCordova Museum
by Silvia Bottinelli
Describe a plastic bottle. What are the first adjectives that come to mind? Maybe fragile, ephemeral, unattractive. We are so used to seeing these disposable objects transit quickly through our homes that we fail to consider their long life after the trashcan. As a matter of fact, plastic bottles are resistant and dura­ble. According to Tony Feher, they are also beautiful. He collects them, along with a number of other everyday items such as marbles, glass jars, and cardboard boxes. These objects inhabit his space, and he observes them over time, charmed by how they respond to light and how they behave when they are stacked or displayed in repetitive patterns. Entering Feher’s retrospective at the deCordova Museum, viewers were immediately introduced to a sample of his collection. Apparently insignificant items were displayed on tables, shelves, cases, and even on the floor. Their formal qualities—patterns and colors—became immediately apparent, as volumes and reflections revealed inherent harmonies. Untitled (1987) is a common glass jar filled with red marbles. Light filters through the glass to design ever-changing drawings on the walls. With this piece, Feher moved beyond painting to experiment with the language of the readymade...see the entire review in the print version of April's Sculpture magazine.

Tony Feher, Untitled, 2009. Emergency thermal blanket, 19 x 17 x 12 in.
New York - John McCracken: David Zwirner
by Jonathan Goodman
The exquisite polish of paint on John McCracken’s simple slabs and other minimal sculptures has the ability to transform three-dimensional art into surfaces that relate as much to painting as they do to objects in this world. This is not to deny the sculptural essence of his art, but to highlight the fact that the surfaces are as interesting as the forms. This very fine mini-retrospective made the perfect finish of McCracken’s efforts abundantly clear. Perhaps intensified by their glossy surfaces, even the slabs—flat planks of wood leaning against the walls—transcended their extreme simplicity. Never having seen the objects in a solo show, I was somewhat skeptical about work that appeared so reductively simple in art magazine reproductions. Greater familiarity, how-­­ ever, brought about a real respect for the actual sculptures, particularly their ability to approximate isolated sentinels. One hesitates to extract more information from these works than they seem willing to give, but the great care used in preparing them tends to emphasize the meaningfulness of each discrete piece. ...see the entire review in the print version of April's Sculpture magazine.

John McCracken, Six Columns, 2006. Polyester resin, fiberglass, and plywood, 6 elements, dimensions variable.
New York - Paola Pivi: Galerie Perrotin
by Christopher Hart Chambers
One might dismiss Paola Pivi’s recent exhibition as a simple, meaningless, and goofy display, but its materiality alone raises such a surfeit of issues and interpretations that it far exceeds the one-liner modus operandi of much conceptual art. Pivi doesn’t state her intention, so maybe a silly, good-natured vision popped into her psychedelic imagination and explanations were dreamed up later, if at all. Eight life-size, day-glow, feathered polar bears cavort, tumble, and stalk; one even leaps overhead. The tableau carries implications. No matter how cute and cuddly the real ones appear, they are wild animals, solitary by nature, fierce, and ferocious—extremely deadly creatures: dangerous beauty. We know polar bears are an endangered species. Most of us have seen photographs in which a lone animal floats on the frigid sea, far from land, stranded on a chunk of arctic ice no larger than a zoo cage. No bear is an island; but conversely, this scene also reminds me of crowds of visitors pressed up against the glass, while a pathetic polar bear sweats out an August afternoon in the Central Park Zoo, listening to seals cheerfully barking at spectators while being tossed another mackerel in reward for their performance. Throw the bear a seal or two, and maybe he’ll do a trick, like not eating one of the hordes of joyfully shrieking human children...see the entire review in the print version of April's Sculpture magazine.

Paola Pivi, installation view of Ok, you are better than me, so what?,", 2013.
New York - Richard Serra: David Zwirner Gallery
by Michaël Amy
“Richard Serra: Early Work” focused on the first five years of the artist’s sculptural output, from the moment when he began working with found industrial materials (1966) to the completion of his first corpus of works, the monumental propped steel plates (1969–71) that later brought him international renown. Serra selected all of the featured works, established the size (and shape) of the two adjoining galleries in which they were displayed, and curated the installation. I note this, because the first gallery (focusing, with one exception, on works made before 1969) seemed cluttered. I would have liked more breathing room between the objects, but perhaps I am too accustomed to the wide white cube, which allows objects to stand or hang with ample space around them. The close proximity served a purpose, however: the installation recalled a 1968 photograph of Serra in his studio, thereby giving a sense of how one sculptural strategy led to another, as if we were in a laboratory where a variety of experiments were conducted side by side by the artist as scientist/engineer in search of an answer. ...see the entire review in the print version of April's Sculpture magazine.

Richard Serra, installation view of Richard Serra: Early Work, 2013.
Toronto - An Te Liu: Gardiner Museum
by J. Lynn Fraser
Objects accrue cultural value like pearls accrue nacre—slowly, through layerings of meaning and time. The works in An Te Liu’s exhibition “Mono No Ma” (mono meaning thing and ma meaning space or gap) explore the act of imbuing superfluous objects—Styrofoam packing materials and casings—with value. Liu creates meaning, and thus value, by reproducing these materials in stoneware and re-encasing them within high-gloss glazes. His reimagined, rebirthed objects accrue status and possibly reverence through their repackaging as art objects installed within the glossy casing of the museum. Liu’s artist statement for “Mono No Ma” credits funerary ware in the Gardiner’s Ancient Americas collection as a partial inspiration for this collection of 19 wall pieces and sculptures. He is well aware that viewers will rely on established symbols and cultural assumptions to create meaning in the work, and therein lies their irony ...see the entire review in the print version of April's Sculpture magazine.

An Te Liux, Deux Ex Machina, 2013. Slip-cast stoneware with tin oxide glaze. 13.5 x 24 x 7 cm.
Rotterdam - Peter Zegveld: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
by Robert Preece
Theatrical producer, producer for Dutch public television, and visual artist, Peter Zegveld included 12 visual and sound works in his recent solo exhibition, which surveyed three decades of his artistic practice. The selections emphasized fun. “Inven­tions. Surprises. Curiosities. All these things are very important,” Zegveld explains in a video interview. At the entrance to the show, I watched four pre-school children take turns sitting on a saddled plywood bench in Horse (2011). Hitting a big red button, they activated a minimalistic horse marionette, which reappeared as an enlarged shadow on the wall. The shadow horse appeared to gallop—via rotating, projected puppet legs, its movements accompanied by a mechanical, almost cartoon-like sound. It was lovely to watch such a simple construction prompt the children’s giggles, and their parents’ laughter. Inside the exhibition, Brothers (2012) employed a similar strategy, with two faces bursting into a surprising, playful song...see the entire review in the print version of April's Sculpture magazine.

Peter Zegveld, Horse, 2011. Mixed media, 1.6 x 0.7 x 1.2 meters.
 
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