Sculptors Provocatively Transform Materials and Objects in New Anderson Gallery Show

RICHMOND, VA- Works by ten sculptors—both veterans and relative newcomers to the international art scene—will be featured in the Anderson Gallery’s winter exhibition, you, your sun and shadow. The exhibition is curated by Michael Jones McKean, a professor in the Department of Sculpture + Extended Media, and organized by the Anderson Gallery at the VCU School of the Arts. “This project offers a singular opportunity to explore a significant aspect of contemporary sculpture from the personal perspective of an artist who is himself highly regarded as an innovator in the field,” says Director Ashley Kistler. The public is invited to attend an opening reception on Friday, January 20, from 6 until 8 p.m. Also free and open to the public, McKean will give a gallery talk on Wednesday, January 25, beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Participating artists include Hany Armanious (Sydney, Australia), Rashid Johnson (New York, NY), Pam Lins (Brooklyn, NY), Tony Matelli (New York, NY), Ian Pedigo (New York, NY), Dario Robleto (San Antonio, TX), Haim Steinbach (Brooklyn, NY and San Diego, CA), Sarah Sze (New York, NY), Tatiana Trouvé (Paris, France), and Daniel Turner (New York, NY). Their sculptures and installations underscore the poetic potential of objects, materials, and modes of arrangement, while conjuring the possibility of larger narrative and metaphorical structures. As McKean conceived it, “The exhibition is a sustained attempt to create a space where straightforward logic doesn’t always win, where simple moments can seem pronounced and exquisite, and where the discovery of meaning depends upon our speculative engagement.”

The investigation of materiality—often paired with a hypersensitive regard for everyday objects—is a central concern of each artist in the show, which includes highly technical approaches as well as the most basic means of delineating space and making marks. In the latter camp, Ian Pedigo handles discarded materials with a directness that preserves their humble character, while coaxing from them visual subtleties that map space in simple but evocative ways. Using steel wool as a painterly tool, Daniel Turner works on site to make wall rubbings whose discreet, seemingly accidental presence belies their intentionality.

Elsewhere in the exhibition, the alchemical transformation of materials again reminds us that appearances can be deceiving. The rarefied ingredients that Dario Robleto assembles to create his work are as important as the final outcome. Often resembling castoff objects, artifacts, or keepsakes, his painstakingly crafted sculptures are symbolically loaded by virtue of their material composition. Through the millennia-old technique of casting, Hany Armanious mines the arcane power, formal possibilities, and conceptual implications of meticulously reproducing everyday objects, elevating both their status in the world and their presence in our minds. Similarly, two works by Tony Matelli, characterized by random marks, grimy smudges, and dusty surfaces, appear to be nothing more than neglected mirrors, while his life-sized figure, floating just inches above the floor in a fugue-like state, offers a hyper-real encounter that reaffirms the sculptor’s sleight of hand.
Other artists address materiality in terms of their selection, arrangement, and display of preexisting objects. Haim Steinbach, an early and especially influential proponent of this approach, is represented by two of his shelf works. In his alter-like assemblages, Rashid Johnson arranges culturally resonant objects to create a personal vocabulary of symbols and references. Sarah Sze, well known for expansive installations engineered with the most quotidian items, goes one step further, casting in plaster all the recyclable containers from a month of lunches and snacks. These nearly 400 simple white forms infiltrate the Anderson Gallery’s work space, their ghostly presence blurring the edge between art and life.

Tatiana Trouvé’s precisely scaled architectural installation reinforces the quiet, sometimes pensive tone that runs through much of the exhibition, as well as the importance of the viewer’s participation in deciphering a narrative. Viewed from opposing sides through large panes of greenish glass, an otherwise inaccessible room contains a mysterious assortment of found and made objects, gestural marks, small doors, and private spaces. Pam Lins also plays with perspective and shifting points of view in her endlessly inventive iterations of the plywood pedestal, each of which changes in appearance, revealing paradoxical characteristics, as the viewer moves around the sculpture.

The exhibition will continue through Sunday, March 11. The Anderson Gallery is located at 907½ West Franklin Street, on VCU’s Monroe Park campus. It is open to the public Tuesday through Friday 10 am-5 pm, and Saturday and Sunday noon-5 pm, and closed on Sunday.