von Rydingsvard: 'Primitive Jarring'
528 West 26th Street, New York
more images at artnet
9 to June 21, 2003
Ursula von Rydingsvard
Pod Pacha 2003
Cedar, graphite, motor, 80 x 89 x 140 inches / h
Courtesy Galerie Lelong, New York
Pod Pacha is at once endearing and menacing, like a Precolumbian dog,
or like Alfred Jarry's pitiable buffoon Ubu Roi. A mechanized lid heaves
and wobbles, its thudding and pounding reverberating around the gallery.
Is the strange creature shrugging its mammoth shoulders, or is some
giant trapped within desperately trying to escape? Pod Pacha has a dozen
udder-cum-stalagtite legs, and is made up, like other pieces in Ursula
von Rydingsvard's impressive show, in a distinctive irregular checkerboard
of robustly sliced slabs of cedar. Chunkiness is the defining feature
of this body of work: a set of stairs and a mammoth "jar"
form both put us in mind of Brancusi's Endless Column.
The reviewer in the New
York Times praises von Rydingsvard's work for "stainding on its
own, shunning the influence of Minimalism
putting emphasis on
the handmade and the associative." All praise is welcome no doubt,
but a very different reading of the artist's relationship to recent
sculpture could equally suggest itself: hers is a highly distinctive
and individualist language for sure, but one that nonetheless battles
the grid and repetition, hallmarks of minimal art. This sculpture achieves
associativeness precisely by its depersonality of carving touch. Resulting
surfaces have a brutal logic of their own, making the works seem truly
a product of nature, not art. Such romanticism does indeed stand out
against the conceptual trend. But rather than isolating her, it places
von Rydingsvard in the company of such artists as William Tucker and
David Nash, whose sliced and charred cube structure, Husk, stood out
in his last show in the same gallery space earlier this season as a
welcome, toughening-up departure.
Ursula von Rydingsvard
River Bowl 2001
Cedar, 174 x 120 x 120 inches
Tucker comes to mind in viewing
Rydingsvar's gargantuan jar-form, River Bowl, for the way in which a
richly ambiguous surface rewards endless imaginative projection. Although
the vase-like form of the overall structure quickly reveals itself,
there are countless lesser form-possibilities within the checkered grid.
It's a work that inspires one to draw it in search of locked-in meanings.