Willard Boepple: Resin, Paper and Wood
Lori Bookstein Fine Art
37 West 57th Street, 3rd floor
New York City
October 26 to December 9, 2006
The ten sculptures in this exhibition have contrasting formal qualities, simple and direct exteriors or frameworks, which are cylindrical, rectilinear, or box-like, utilitarian and other, and variegated interiors, with shifting planes and interstices. Unless you have perfect visual recall, viewing them from multiple angles will not lead to an immediate comprehension of the whole. Each time you reposition yourself around or to the sides of these sculptures some new detail or relationship materializes.
Initially, they look like four legged tables, standing or prone rectangles, speaker cabinets or end tables, but their utilitarian qualities disappear on closer inspection. Boepple generates confusion by luring the viewer’s gaze into the compact and elusive spaces in the center of his sculptures and eliminating all obvious entry points for the viewer’s gaze. We are forced into a phenomenological event, where our comprehension of the whole has to be pieced together and we become aware of the act of constructing the whole in our minds. Everything fits together in a very complicated way and it takes time to figure out how it is all integrated.
The translucency of the five resin sculptures in this exhibition is essential to their meaning. They take the tension generated by the poplar sculptures, which relates to the viewer’s gaze being unable to touch or physically enter the interior spaces we can see between the asymmetrically placed rectangular pieces of wood, to a new level. Like the wood sculptures we are meant to look into them. The indentations in such cylindrical sculptures as “Ways and Means” (2002) and “Gearless” (2002) become embedded dark lines when we look at the sculptures from the sides. The relationship between these embedded lines and the protuberances and recessions visible on the exteriors of the sculptures, becomes unclear. The level of opacity and translucency of the resin is smartly determined so that the lines we see within the material are distorted the way objects seen beneath water are.
These ten sculptures are not pictorial, narrative based, or metaphorical. Their cold formalism is undermined by their intimate scale. They intensify the act of looking and reward the viewer who tries to understand their complexity and the ways they divide and synthesize framed or embedded spaces which are aloof from the world around them.
A version of this review first appeared in the New York Sun, November 30, 2006