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July/August 2015
Vol. 34 No. 6

A publication of the
International Sculpture Center
Los Angeles: Ben Jackel - L.A. Louver Gallery
by Kathleen Whitney
Grandpa's Knuckle Duster (Bronze), 2014. Ben Jackel’s works are splinters off the American culture of violence—hyper-real portraits of instruments of power and aggression. Although the objects originate in a concrete world of specific function, they are re-envisioned as luxury objects borrowed from their industrial and martial origins, and repurposed and valorized as sculpture. MoMA’s design collection peels the burden of utility from objects and recontextualizes them as “things of beauty”; Jackel stands this process on its head by obsessively replicating objects with such a heavy associative load that, regardless of their beauty and haute-design quotient, they stay latched to their utilitarian identities. The point of the work is a question: What connotative shift occurs when the functional and the lethal are converted to the decorative? The show’s title, “American Imperium,” references this country’s current state of permanent warfare and lends Jackel’s sculptures a slightly ambiguous political context. ...see the entire review in the print version of July/August's Sculpture magazine.

Ben Jackel, Grandpa's Knuckle Duster (Bronze), 2014.
Los Angeles: Alma Allen - Blum & Poe
by Kathleen Whitney
Not Yet Titled, 2014. Alma Allen’s sculptures are handsome, poetic, and uncomplicated. A tribute to the aesthetics of 20th-century abstraction, they hew closely to its classic values, as represented by several generations of artists, including Moore, Hepworth, Noguchi, and Bourgeois. Like his predecessors, Allen draws his points of reference from the world of organic forms, mainly from the figure and the geometries of nature. Though his dramatic expressionist surfaces and compact forms reference sculptors of the last century, they lack the same conceptual and formal rigor. His work aims at the abstract sublime, celebrates the sensuality of the abject, and is fabricated at a human scale. Each object expresses the material from which it was made—stone, wood, or bronze; the impeccable craftsmanship is the most powerful characteristic of the work. All of the pieces are highly polished, singular objects, articulated in a way that emphasizes the process of carving. Because Allen suffers from severe carpal tunnel syndrome, assistants and a robotic machine perform much of the fabrication (he is unable to carve for more than a few hours at a time). This may explain why the larger sculptures exhibit a uniformity of gesture that works against the activity of the surfaces. ...see the entire review in the print version of July/August's Sculpture magazine.

Alma Allen, Not Yet Titled, 2014
Waltham, Massachusetts: Mark Bradford - The Rose Art Museum
by Silvia Bottinelli
Sea Pigs, 2014. Big and scaly. That’s how most people imagine “Sea Monsters,” which is also the title of Mark Bradford’s recent exhibition. Though these sculptures and paintings lack menacing teeth and constricting coils, which would only make them literal and banal, the title properly warns against hidden danger. Large and flaking, Bradford’s works allude to the stratification of meaning behind enticing billboards and advertisements such as those that punctuate the streets of Los Angeles, his home city.

The King’s Mirror, a constellation of boards covered in layers of billposter ads, encrusted an entire wall. Collected, displayed, and stacked by Bradford, the ads acquired new meaning in the frame of his piece. Visible from the outside of the Rose through the monumental windows of the Lois Foster Wing, the mural’s faded images surfaced on 300 individual supports, as though the forms and colors had been washed away by water in the form of rain, waves, and mist...see the entire review in the print version of July/August's Sculpture magazine.

Mark Bradford, Sea Pigs, 2014.
Lincoln, Montana: 2014 Sculpture Symposium - Blackfoot Pathways: Sculpture in the Wild International Sculpture Park
by John K. Grande
Steven Siegel, Hill and Valley, 2014. For its inaugural symposium, Black­foot Pathways: Sculpture in the Wild International Sculpture Park brought an impressive roster of sculptors from Ireland, Denmark, Finland, and the U.S. to the small community of Lincoln, Montana. Founded to celebrate the rich, and sometimes conflicting, environmental, industrial, and cultural heritage of the Blackfoot Valley, this new park invites artists to create site-specific works using materials associated with the area’s historical legacy. The teepee burner of the old Delaney sawmill, edged by a pine forest, serves as a symbolic focus for the park’s natural and cultural aspirations. Teepee burners are no longer used in the logging industry, and this majestic remnant of Blackfoot Valley heritage has been transformed into a contemporary space for art exhibitions, performances, and educational programs and workshops. ...see the entire review in the print version of July/August's Sculpture magazine.

Steven Siegel, Hill and Valley, 2014.
Short Hills, New Jersey: “Art in Nature” - Greenwood Gardens
by Jonathan Goodman
Paige Pedri, Animal, 2011. Art and nature coexist very well amid the sumptuous scenery of Green­wood Gardens. Once under private ownership, Greenwood has been made available as a public site since 2003. Originally home to two wealthy families, the grounds of the house were decorated first with lush annuals and perennials, later with evergreens and sculptural flourishes, and now with native plants and new, low-maintenance greenery. In the midst of this exquisite natural collection, noted critic and curator Karen Wilkin, with the help of Studio Montclair, put together the group show “Art in Nature.” Some 32 artists were included, their work ranging from the figurative to the abstract, and all the pieces were carefully sited among trees and plants. ...see the entire review in the print version of July/August's Sculpture magazine.

Paige Pedri, Animal, 2011.
New York: Melvin Edwards - Alexander Gray Gallery
by Joan Pachner
 Melvin Edwards, Homage to the Poet Leon Gontran Damas, 1978-81. Melvin Edwards’s head-size, welded metal abstractions draw you in like black holes, revealing themselves gradually. Out of the darkness, individual elements emerge, some menacing—knives, broken forks, machete parts, and chains—others innocuous—horseshoes, locks, bolts, and drill bits. All the common detritus of industrial civilization makes an appearance, mirroring commonly used items in everyday life. These found objects are absorbed into an informed aesthetic in a manner that is reminiscent of, but distinct from, that of David Smith, in part due to Edwards’s expressive use of welding drips, which often add a vital element. In MMOZ (2005), for instance, the welds look like thick keloid scars, while the drips spreading over the surface of the dense Libya suggest hair. ...see the entire review in the print version of July/August's Sculpture magazine.

Melvin Edwards, Homage to the Poet Léon Gontran Damas, 1978-81.
New York: Carol Ross - Rooster Gallery
by Jonathan Goodman
Carol Ross, Jester 5, 2014. Carol Ross’s small but strong show featured a series of abstract paintings and three large relief sculptures, the latter acting, in some ways, as the center of the exhibition. Made of light- and dark-colored veneers, the organic quality of these works—evident in their general outlines and in the interlocking shapes of their interior compositions—belongs to a popular dialect of Modernism. Indeed, there is some connection between Ross’s sculptures and the rounded, puzzle-pieced works of Jean Arp, though Ross’s works are inevitably her own, with an emphasis on design qualities rather than three-dimensional surfaces. The contrast between dark and light shapes, their edges joining up with each other, emphasizes a feeling of graceful flow. Ross, whose recent works have consisted of Minimalist aluminum sculptures, has returned to the warmer material of wood. As a group, the sculptures engage in a close conver­­sation; while they present individual identities, their sequential relations and camaraderie are also clear, so that their effect is cumulative. Placed fairly high up on a single wall, the reliefs looked over the work in the rest of the gallery. ...see the entire review in the print version of July/August's Sculpture magazine.

Carol Ross, Jester 5, 2014.
New York: Sui Jianguo - Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Central Park
by Jan Garden Castro
Sui Jianguo, Blind Portraits, 2014. Sui Jianguo, who is best known for his “Mao Jacket” and “Dinosaur” series, which figuratively and symbolically comment on China’s Cultural Revolution, ventured into new territory with Blind Portraits. This monumental public meditation on blindness marked a dramatic shift in tone, point of view, style, and process. In addition, Blind Portraits does not conform to dominant public art trends; it is neither minimal, geometric, nor lifelike.

The four bronze works, scaled up to 17 feet tall, are “blind” in more than one sense. Sui created his clay models when he was blindfolded, so he could not see what he was doing. The dramatically gouged, lumpen forms, which somewhat resemble heads with misplaced eye sockets and mouth openings, may themselves be seen as “blind.” Not only are the heads misshapen, but the welds in the bronze form large seams that do not conform to a regular pattern. The construction either departs from or exaggerates the original clay models, drawing attention to the pieced-together quality of the heads. At night, the four abstracted, ovoid forms, lit only by ambient light, blended into the urban landscape and seemed rooted in Central Park, suggesting bodies sprung from the earth itself. This, in turn, offered a reminder that humans, too, have an unspoken connection to the earth—and are dependent on it in ways to which we may be blind. ...see the entire review in the print version of July/August's Sculpture magazine.

Sui Jianguo, Blind Portraits, 2014.
Pittsburgh “Artists in Residence,” Pittsburgh Biennial 2014 Mattress Factory
by Elaine A. King
Kathleen Montgomery, Body Memory Architecture, 2014. The Pittsburgh Biennial was inaugurated in 1994, when Murray Horne, curator of the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, aspired to showcase diverse local and regional talent. The 2014 Biennial was the ninth and largest iteration to date, with eight organizations participating, including the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Andy Warhol Museum, the Mattress Fac­tory, Pittsburgh Filmmakers, the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, the Pitts­burgh Glass Center, Space Gal­lery, and the Miller Gallery at Car­negie Mellon.

As with most biennials, the work was incredibly uneven; “Artists in Residence” at the Mattress Factory was undoubtedly the most significant contribution. Barbara Luder­owski, museum president, and co-director Michael Olijnyk invited Danny Bracken, Ryder Henry, Kathleen Montgomery, John Peña, and Benjamin Sota to create new installations, giving each a large, distinct area in which to work. ...see the entire review in the print version of July/August's Sculpture magazine.

Kathleen Montgomery, Bodu Memory Architecture, 2014.
Rutland, Vermont: Fran Bull - Chaffee Downtown and Castleton Downtown Gallery
by B. Amore
“STATIONS,” Fran Bull’s recent, dual venue exhibition, featured gigantic, wall-hung tableaux of figures rendered in high relief, along with one floor piece. Her dreamers, wrapped in white Venetian plaster bedclothes, represent iconic expositions of ourselves, draped in mystery, with as much hidden as revealed. Har­ken­ing back to the Stations of the Cross, each tableau recounts an incident in a secular life journey. Bull’s figures entwine and rise from their sleeping positions to gesture into space while still remaining fixed to their plinths. Most have open mouths, and one can almost hear their silent, slumbering voices beginning to awaken. ...see the entire review in the print version of July/August's Sculpture magazine.

Fran Bull, installation view of "STATIONS," 2014.
Buenos Aires: Juan Batalla - Centro Cultural San Martin
by María Carolina Baulo
Juan Batalla, installation view of Planetario, 2014. Since 2001, Juan Batalla has been involved in the Argentine art scene as an artist and curator. Always concerned with the interdisciplinary, his work navigates religion, contemporary art, and the humanities, with a special interest in African artistic expressions. His recent exhibition, “Planetario,” reflected the spirit of primitive forms in the service of the sacred, combining his well-known rubber sculptures (he has said that they act as “memorials,” keeping track of time and the personal, unique, and irreplaceable imprint) with a video installation of abstract images (similar to an equalizer), assemblages, and photographs. ...see the entire review in the print version of July/August's Sculpture magazine.

Juan Batalla, installation view of "Planetario," 2014.
Tel Aviv: Ariel Schlesinger and Wilfredo Prieto - Center for Contemporary Art
by Angela Levine
Ariel Schlesinger, Untitled (Pair), 2010. “Hiding Wood in Trees” was developed collaboratively by Ariel Schlesinger and Wilfredo Prieto, though most of the works were authored individually. The whimsical title calls attention to a quality shared by their post-Minimalist approach—a belief that art is all around us, and inspiration, or sources of humor, can be found in the most humdrum of objects whose appearance and function we take for granted. This attitude was wittily illustrated by Ascension, an “artwork” created by both artists that consisted of used tea bags and splattered brown stains planted on the ceiling. ...see the entire review in the print version of July/August's Sculpture magazine.

Ariel Schlesinger, Untitled (Pair), 2010.

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