John Duff at Knoedler & Company
Considering that reductive form and the exploration of Gestalt psychology are only part of John Duff’s repertoire, the nature of his sculptures does not stem from Minimalism alone. Usually, the experience of minimal sculpture relies on the immediately visible, our knowledge of size, shape, and character of the object itself. The reduction of form and perception generally equals the reduction of time in processing our reading of the object (without any emotional content).
Duff’s recent sculptures elude all these characterizations. His work demands a considerable amount of looking, thinking, and feeling. Here, the deployment of geometry is complex, not repetitious but rather systematic, caused by playful constructions of minute symmetry and its relational dynamics: bilateral, translatory, and rotational. These criteria seem to be best exemplified in two works entitled "Inclined Form" (2001) and "Equilateral Torus II" (2002). While the former presents a triangular shape emerging from the overlapping lines and meeting points of four rotating squares, the latter employs the interchange of inverted volume, featuring shapes that are exposed within three circular frames in alternation. But there are even more intriguing examples, such as "Triangular Torus I" (2001) and "Triangular Torus II" (2002), in which three squares are placed within a perfect triangle and circle, some cast upside-down, others downside-up. With a display of stunning simplicity of form and an elegant bent of gravity, "Hemisphere II," (2002) suggests the precious beauty of Vietnamese or Cambodian ceramics, appearing as a planetary unit in flux.
Thinking and looking at this new body of work, I discovered the sensual aspects in Duff’s choice of materials. Using plaster, steel rods, cement, resin, or wax, he is able to subtly vary his surfaces and succeeds in utilizing materials that accommodate each sculpture’s specific requirements. I must confess that I was rather taken with the chemical bleeding of rusty red from the steel rods onto the plaster, which can be found in most of the works, leading to an unlikely marriage of wax and cement, the malleable and the concrete. In addition, Duff’s drawings are surprisingly lyrical and quirky. They yield toward another with a sensibility that suggests lightheartedness, transforming into sketches rather than finished drawings.
The exhibition, an unusual visual experience, left me with the rare feeling of completion. Like a restrained romantic with an inquiring and rigorous mind at work, Duff is a generous artist who is aware of the triangular dialogue between the viewer, the maker, and the object. His is an immense effort without being monumental.
Kerry O’Brien and William Robin’s
By George Grella
MAY 2023 | Music
This is a peculiar book. It is a collection of original source documents from the creation and development of minimalism in music, edited and introduced by musicologists OBrien and Robin. It is expansive in both time and conceptthe first excerpt is by Amiri Baraka, from his article Miles Davis: One of the Great Mother Fuckers, which dates from the mid-1980s, and the last is a translation of Éliane Radigues 2009 essay The Mysterious Power of the Infinitesimal.
from The Nature BookBy Tom Comitta
MARCH 2023 | Fiction
Darwin discovered that evolution proceeds with neither direction nor purpose. The natural world is largely indifferent to plan or plot. Yet we, story-seeking creatures that we are, see the world around us as more completed, more accomplished, than what came before. Tom Comitta’s The Nature Book explores these tensions by stitching together hundreds of fragments in the history of literary writing about the natural worldthis excerpt alone is a collage of ninety-seven novels ranging from Hawthorne to Arundhati Roy. Though the text of The Nature Book is a polyphonic effort of writers, humans are absent from the actual story. In this seamless anthology, we forget that the experience of reading about nature is mediated by human voices and, when suspended in the text, succumb to the magical illusion that we are perceiving the world in itself.
Tony Cragg: Sculptures and Works on PaperBy Phyllis Tuchman
APRIL 2023 | ArtSeen
Possessing a well-honed, singular formal intelligence, Cragg breathes life into vibrant entities. He masterfully sets in motion rhythmic passages. Repetitive waves wash across his sculptures and enliven his compelling surfaces. His art is fluid, not unchangeable.
Helen Frankenthaler: Drawing within Nature: Paintings From The 1990sBy Robert C. Morgan
MARCH 2023 | ArtSeen
The exhibition of Helen Frankenthalers paintings from the early 1990s currently on view at Gagosian is a curious and provocative one. The shows title, Drawing within Nature, was a phrase once used by the artist to describe her work, which has been appropriated by the scholar Thomas Crow, who contributes an essay to the exhibition catalogue.