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Corban Walker

Grid Stack
PaceWildenstein February 2–March 10, 2007

Corban Walker, “Grid Stack 2” (2007). Clear float glass and Diamante glass. 37 1/2” x 24” x 16 1/4”. Courtesy PaceWildenstein, New York. Photo: Ellen Labenski / Courtesy PaceWildenstein, New York.

Imagine that Yao Ming, upon his retirement from the NBA, becomes a sculptor. His gallery issues a press release on his exhibition, and just in case you don’t know who he is, talks about the artist’s height and how it affects his work: obviating the use of a step-ladder, skewing a certain tallishness, and so on. This would, of course, be patently silly. When Pace Wildenstein does the inverse with four-foot-tall sculptor Corban Walker, it’s silly and cynical.

Walker’s sculptures profess an aesthetic of minimalism with a maximal accumulation of parts: a zigzagging fence of interwoven aluminum bars, and rectangular pieces of glass stacked in alternating patterns, forming cubes or a ramp. The glass pieces are more challenging than the metal ones. The patterned green and blue rays reflected by the edges of the glass are both visually intriguing and coldly alienating, their basketlike repetitiveness creating an effect that is anything but folksy. Placed discretely around the cavernous gallery, they seem to thrum with an ominous mechanical intelligence, like a futuristic god-idol out of —its endless reflections seem to illuminate it from the inside—could be a feet-mauling prop from a sadistic Busby Berkeley number. None of the sculptures are over 44 inches, and so what? The uniformity of their design precludes any desire to “(crouch) down to get the full effect,” as the press release declares.

It’s a given that Jackson Pollock’s use of the floor is a factor in the making of his drip paintings, but would any serious art historian consider Diego Rivera’s girth to have had a bearing on his work? There must be a line between an artist’s process and his physicality. Pace should give Walker more credit. The work is stringent, if not lovable, and I imagine that so elegant an artist does not enjoy his personal ghettoization.


The Brooklyn Rail

MAR 2007

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