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Thursday 10.28.10

« Last Thursday Picks October 2010 | Main | Scary links »

David Corbett at Linfield

Past Craft (fg) Star, Canadian Print Job (2), Space Junk (bg, left to right)

Reminiscent of structural engineering and material entropy David Corbett's New Work at Linfield College finally allows area viewers the chance to take stock of an interesting artist who till now has been relegated to too many group shows. Without the distractions of other artists we can now survey works like Tower, Canadian Print Job, Space Junk and the intentionally less remarkable Bore. You gotta love the counter intuitive idea of making one little brown sculpture purposefully duller than the others. Nice move.

Tower (fg) Bore (bg)

Overall, Corbett's accretive sculptures resemble Eva Hesse's fleshy response to geometric modernism but it's his use of paint as coating... call it the ectoplasm of painting's history haunting a sculpture, which makes it interesting. It isn't deconstruction either, instead it's accretive, like the post apocalyptic bones of sculptures that have now sprouted fungal colonies. Think of the Herzog and De Meuron's Birds Nest stadium dipped in black tar and you get the idea.

Ultimately though this work is related to Rachel Harrison and other artists in the Unmonumental show (which had been preceded by Thing at the Hammer Museum etc.). Both shows had their roots in Rauchenberg's combines but Corbett's approach is more abstract (a Portland thing with our hoard of interesting abstract sculptors). One could also suggest Peta Coyne's more organic work as a related approach.

Two closely related local artists neatly bracket Corbett's work, which isn't as radical or original as Jesse Hayward's nor is it as fully synthesized fusion of form and surface as that of Midori Hirose. Still, it's good and with a little more time might find a more singular niche, perhaps Corbett's counterintuitive wit will even find fuller expression?

Past Craft

It's still very worth the drive out to Mcminnville. The largest work in the show, Past Craft, resembles the manifold superstructure of a crumpled Daniel Libeskind building dipped repeatedly in crude oil and Star's surface with its yellows reds and silver seems like the meeting of Buckminster Fuller and Jackson Pollock. I particularly liked Space Junk as it went from dark globby grey at the bottom to a bright yellow on top giving it a kind of garbage with a flower appearance. The dramatic color treatment made the piece more extroverted and less impassive.

We've seen some of these pieces like Past Craft before and my biggest problem with the show is it feels like it needed a larger anchor piece for more variety of scale.

Overall, the show gets a little swallowed by the space, but only a little. The other criticism is that this does seem pretty art school... I can't shake the feeling that there are several MFA students doing this very same kind of thing and most of the pieces work better as a group than as a singular object. Only Past Craft and Space Junk are strong enough on their own.

Space Junk (fg) Star & Canadian Print Job (2) (bg, left to right)

Still this is well realized work (way beyond MFA) which deserves much more attention and should appeal to anyone who also collects abstract painting. I also like how this work is additive and not deconstructive (keeping with a more contemporary heuristic understanding). The work slyly evokes all sorts of things such as sea birds coated in crude oil to playground equipment coated in birdshit and berries. It is exciting and I hope that we see more solo shows in Portland from David that explore this body of work.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 28, 2010 at 12:29 | Comments (0)


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