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Sculpture cover


October 2016
Vol. 35 No. 8

A publication of the
International Sculpture Center
New York: Doris Salcedo - Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
by Susan Canning
Doris Salcedo asks questions that are difficult to answer. Can art serve a purpose? Can it act as witness or perform as testimonial? Can it console and heal? Can it repurpose trauma? Can it be both aesthetically pleasing and meaningful? These queries form the heart of Salcedo’s practice. But rather than reply, she ensnares us in the creative and moral challenges of making art in a world dominated by war, state-sponsored violence, and terrorism. As a recent retrospective demonstrated, Salcedo has long dealt with the mechanisms of power and its abuse. Indeed, it is chilling to look at the works she has made since the late-1980s, which reference death squads and mass killings in her native Colombia, and realize that not much has changed, except perhaps locations and names...see the entire review in the print version of October's Sculpture magazine.

Doris Salcedo, Disremembered I and III, 2014. Silk threads and sewing needles, installation view.
San Francisco: Libby Black- Gallery 16
by Maria Porges
With a sweetly acerbic humor, Libby Black’s work navigates the roiled waters of desire and consumption as experienced through the filters of feminism, lesbian culture, and the great American obsession with self-help—and its frequent traveling companion, addiction. Well over a decade ago, Black began creating paper-and-paint sculptures that replicate high-end luxury goods: Kate Spade shoes, Louis Vuitton bags, even things as large as a Mercedes. Later, she segued into even more interesting territory when she began generating an imaginary world in which things like workout equipment improbably bear the trademark colors and immediately recognizable logos of luxury brands (a Burberry punching bag, a Chanel weight belt, a Prada stationary bike). Black is as much a painter as she is a sculptor, if labels must be applied to a practice, and her recent show included both objects and images. ...see the entire review in the print version of October's Sculpture magazine.

Libby Black, Spirit, 2016. Paper, glue, and paint, 100.5 x 41 x 21 in.
Boston: Jessica Straus - Boston Sculptors Gallery
by Marty Carlock
From afar, Jessica Straus’s carefully constructed and colorful forms appear quirky and playful. A closer look at the circus colors, however, reveals a less happy message. These pieces are a polemic about the world’s next crisis—the lack of drinkable water. Oversize oil cans and water carriers are covered with strips sliced from red-and-yellow “Danger” signs. We can piece the letters together to read “Caution,” “Non beber,” “Non potable,” and “Do not drink.” Meticulous, time-consuming craftsmanship has been a hallmark of Straus’s work throughout her career. In the past, it has involved carving wood into hand-crafted multiples, arranged in unexpected ways and usually combined with unlikely, hard-to-identify flea market objects. Here, the same attention to detail has gone into cutting and reconstructing printed material, maps, and warning tape. Straus did herself a disservice with the cheeky title of the show; “Uh Oh!” reveals nothing helpful...see the entire review in the print version of October's Sculpture magazine.

Jessica Straus, Blimp, 2016. Wood, collage, and found objects, 13 x 37 x 13 in.
Newark, New Jersey: Robert Lach - Solo(s) Project House
by Jonathan Goodman
Robert Lach is a mid-career sculptor whose studio (since 2013) is just down the hall from the exhibition space at Solo(s), a gallery that during the winter dedicates its expanse to in-house artists working on special projects and new works. Lach uses Arte Povera mainstays such as found wood, cardboard, tape, and spackle to build organic sculptures through repetitions of form—hence “Cellular,” the title of the show. One of his most interesting materials is white packing foam, which is highly flexible. Many artists today are working with throw-away materials in an attempt to realign sculpture with a physical reality not so distant from actual life. Lach’s use of packing materials indicates his decision to use whatever is at hand, even stuff from his job at Mana, the art complex in Jersey City, where he works in the crating shop. The centerpiece of “Cellular” was Wrapped II (2016), a semi-sphere consisting of holes established with foam, surrounded and supported by packing tape...see the entire review in the print version of October's Sculpture magazine.

Robert Lach, Wrapped II, 2016. Card board, tape, and foam, 29 x 52 x 52 in.
New York: Mike Bidlo - Frances Naumann Fine Art
by Robert C. Morgan
Mike Bidlo is one of the earliest of the so-called “appropriation” artists in the U.S. Others, such as Sturtevant, Richard Prince, and Sherrie Levine, have received considerable attention, but Bidlo was there at the beginning. One might argue that he came from another place, from his own observations, not only in relation to Duchamp, but also in relation to other artists, ranging from Léger to Pollock. Indeed, Bidlo continues to maintain a focus on Duchamp, which may verge on obsession. I am not referring to “obsession” as a clinical condition, but as an extreme aesthetic focus. Duchamp’s Fountain (1917) has held a particular fascination for Bidlo over the years (as demonstrated in the volumetric Bruno Bischofberger catalogue from more than a decade ago). Now add to this, Bidlo’s appropriation of Duchamp’s first legitimate readymade, the bottle drying rack from 1914, and suddenly a dialogical encounter begins to take place. ...see the entire review in the print version of October's Sculpture magazine.

Mike Bidlo, Flattened Bottle Rack, 2016. Chrome-plated, steamrolled French bottle rack, dimensions variable.
New York: Kambui Olujimi - Cue Art Foundation
by Jan Garden Castro
Kambui Olujimi did not invent the concept of “Solastalgia,” but his memorable exhibition launched it as a universal concern today. Coined by Australian philosopher Glenn Albrecht, the word refers to the psychic distress that results from displacement from one’s home whether by natural, social, or economic causes. In the U.S., gentrification, violence, and police brutality disproportionately affect African American and low-income neighborhoods— a fact that Olujimi underscored in this show with a series of memorials to his neighbor and mentor Catherine Arline and to fallen victims of violence on both sides of the police badge. The entrance to the exhibition was blocked by two large chandeliers placed on the floor and powered by two battered suitcases. Midnight on Myrtle and Broadway alludes to the 2014 murders of officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos in Brooklyn. A large painting and several smaller ink portraits of Catherine Arline, a deceased community leader in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood where Olujimi grew up, faced the sculpture...see the entire review in the print version of October's Sculpture magazine.

Kambui Olujimi, Mercy Doesn’t Grow On Trees, 2016. Wood, glass wishbone, gold leaf, bell jar, and ratchet straps, 12.5 x 4.5 x 2 ft.
Stouffville, Ontario, Canada: Xiaojing Yan - The Latcham Gallery
by Margaret Rodgers
Cloud Cell, the central component in Xiaojing Yan’s recent exhibition “Hybrid Vigour,” is a splendidly ethereal and luminescent installation. Constructed of thousands of freshwater pearls suspended on monofilament between two aluminum squares, this cloud-like rendering uses light and space to great effect. As in the contemplation of clouds, there are many interpretations. Yan’s references include the scholars’ rocks prevalent in Chinese gardens, which have been used as objects of meditation since ancient times. The eroded limestone that Yan renders through air and light has visual properties reminiscent of the mountainous landscapes seen in Asian brush paintings, but it can also be read as an ominous mushroom cloud, or even a death’s head. In terms of image and material, Damien Hirst’s diamond-encrusted skull comes to mind, with its cold, glittering surfaces and its intimations of mortality. But this notion emerges as a counterpoint to Yan’s piece, which is evanescent and porous, something with soft reflective possibilities and made from materials that develop through an organic connectedness to water, a gentleness rather than force. Diamonds deep within a stony crucible of igneous rock are compressed over eons, while pearls are an accumulation inside a small animal. The interplay of light and air continually re-creates the piece as it is viewed from all sides...see the entire review in the print version of October's Sculpture magazine.

Xiaojing Yan, Cloud Cell, 2014. Freshwater pearls, aluminum, and monofilament thread, 96 x 45 x 45 in.
New Delhi: Sudarshan Shetty- National Gallery of Modern Art
by Chitra Balasubramaniam
Sudarshan Shetty, describing his recent installation, Shoonya Ghar (emptiness is the house), has said that it “challeng[es] my own relationship with the market as an artist. Since it is a museum show, this is an opportunity to push those boundaries in my work rather than doing a retrospective, which is what I was offered.” And push boundaries he did, with élan, combining diverse mediums and materials to seamlessly blend the distant past with the present. The inspiration for this body of work came from the great 12th-century Nirgun poet, Gorakhnath, speci­fically his dohas, or couplets, that speak hauntingly of inhabitants in settlements and places. Shetty has tried to give a form and function to these lines in architectural imagery. As he says, “The structure and the images within this particular poetry can both be read as architectural in evocation. So, the first response was to build something that could be shown within the existing architecture of the gallery space.” Poems are open to interpretation, and dohas are particularly difficult to interpret given their ambiguous words and cryptic meanings...see the entire review in the print version of October's Sculpture magazine.

Sudarshan Shetty, Shoonya Ghar, 2016. Second-hand teak from a dismantled structure and video, 2 stills from installation.
DISPATCH Washington, DC: “Wonder”- Renwick Gallery
by Sarah Tanguy
From kaleidoscopic prisms to twinkling LED lights, nine room-size installations inaugurated the Renwick’s second reboot since its opening in 1859. Natural references and the importance of labor prevailed, as did explorations of growth and accumulation with materials of everyday life. By featuring contemporary artists Jennifer Angus, Chakaia Booker, Gabriel Dawe, Tara Donovan, Patrick Dougherty, John Grade, Janet Echel­man, Maya Lin, and Leo Villareal, the Renwick opted to revitalize its original mission—it was the first private museum in the U.S. dedicated to the visual arts. This decision seemed to defy years of being the Smithsonian Institution’s venue for decorative arts and crafts, signaling perhaps the Renwick’s final blow to the distinction between the two genres...see the entire review in the print version of October's Sculpture magazine.

Patrick Dougherty, Shindig, 2015. Willow saplings, 16 x 90 x 12 ft.

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