ELISA LENDVAY Small Sculptureby Daniel Wiener
Jason McCoy Gallery | September 12 – October 26, 2012
In this large group of small sculptures, Elisa Lendvay masterfully tinkers with plaster, Sculpey, wire, bones, stones, markers, and a playing card found on the beach of Montauk. Lendvay’s sculpture, despite being small, has a volumetric heft and a poetically charged presence that pulls the work back from the edge of the nothingness sought by one of her artistic influences, sculptor Richard Tuttle. In fact, I want to call Lendvay’s project “the resurrection of nothing,” and I wonder if Lazarus and Frankenstein are not more pertinent predecessors than Tuttle.
Loops, depicted in several sculptures including “Bend (Gray & White)” (2012), might be the key to this group of works. With the sculptures here displayed in close proximity to each other, circuits of form crisscross the individual pieces. It is easy to imagine Lendvay circling through the studio week after week—adding a bit here, subtracting there, combining an element here, and splicing it over there. With each lap something unfamiliar is discovered in this iterative routine.
This sort of working method is even reiterated in the shape of the sculptures, where the form of a three-dimensional loop perpetuates. In “Bend (Gray & White)” and “Bend (Green Spot)” (both 2012), a chunky line folds over on itself and intersects at the middle, bending into what could be a pelvis. In “Stone Mark” (2012), a loop is drawn around a stone so that we are driven to imagine it traversing the unseen face of the stone. Each work is grounded within a simple geometry that can be visually traversed numerous times, but our eyes are able to take a path more diverse and varied than a circle.
Together with wire, plaster, and wax, Lendvay also loops her disparate elements—handmade objects, readymades of intrinsic visual interest, assisted readymades, and barely extant nothings—as if bringing these items back from the dead. Lendvay sews together her work like Dr. Frankenstein sewing together body parts to create his monster. But something loopy—not monstrous—animates each sculpture, contributing to a surprising sense of completeness, even though each work is fashioned out of fragments.
Lendvay’s small sculptures are the opposite of spectacle - unprepossessing, modest, and lyrical. They are neither epic nor operatic and do not need to shout or jump up and down to grab our attention. What a relief to be able to contemplate a group of sculptures quietly, without the endless chatter of narcissistic need. The feeling of intimacy generated by Lendvay’s work arises not just from the diminutive size of her sculpture but also as a result of her generous invitation into her studio, wherein she allows us to witness the trial and error of private invention.
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