A SCULPTURE OF SMALL WRIT LARGE
Richard Deacon and Sui Jianguo, Los Angeles, LA Louver Galley / I saw this show with Howard N. Fox on September 6, 2018.
The British artist Deacon first encountered Sui on a visit in China to create a proposed sculpture. Sui, who had sat on the committee which had selected Deacon, quickly became friends with the visiting artist, and they bonded in that 1999 meeting, realizing their affinities despite the sometimes radically different appearance of their own works.
In one of the best works of the show, Size Is Everything #3, its title spells out in the artwork’s curvaceous-like exclamation—not unlike his famed After, the gigantic articulated wooden worm from 1998—through the method of its creation. We witness through the articulation of this beech and elm-wood construction how it must have come into existence by the assemblage of the smaller wooden struts that Deacon has skillfully epoxied together. The marvelously expressive alphabet-like figure—a bit like an emphatic emoji—is made possible only because of the lesser constituent parts.
Similarly, the large stainless steal painted work, New Alphabet GHI (2018) is a product of various shaped metal constructions linked intricately together to create a language-in-motion and depth that becomes larger than life.
If upon first viewing Sui’s work it might appear to consist of huge bronze abstract cuttings in the manner—without the human bodily references—of an
like Rodin, we gradually perceive that a grand gestural piece (larger by far
than most individuals) such as Planting
Trace I (2014-2016) is actually based on a small clay model that shares the
imprints of the artist’s hand working the material, implanting the imprint of
his own skin, and then using 3D scanning that magnifies the images into cast
bronze. What appears to be a gigantic gesture of winnowing away a block of
metal is actually the small motion made through the very smallest elements,
clay rolling across the hand,
In this profound show, Sui was a true revelation for me, and shown within the context of his friend, Deacon, I gained a new comprehension how truly “size is everything,” that even the smallest gesture when writ large, can become something of amazing beauty.
Los Angeles, August 7, 2018