Currently on at Matthew Marks Gallery’s New York exhibition space, a body of small-scale works by American sculptor Ken Price dot the room, each drawing the visitor’s eye with a meticulously arranged series of loping curves, compellingly evocative forms and lumpy, surrealist modes of expression. This range of pieces, underscoring Price’s intuitive knowledge of bronze and its potential sculptural capacities, makes for a colorful, striking break from the chilling cold and overcast days of December in the city.
The works on view date from the two decades of Price’s life at the height of his sculptural abilities, mixing together a range of styles and techniques with a masterful hand. Fifteen small-scale pieces are arranged throughout the gallery space, each one bringing the viewer into an intricate and ever-shifting relationship with form itself. Price’s work is notable in its sense of the organic, borrowing from the annals of West Coast post-war sculpture to mine an organic, yet equally cartoonish sense of his objects, each time diving into a vibrant, illuminating perspectives on the techniques of production.
Price’s work is endlessly innovative in its approach to the object, and in his interest in how a line can move across and through three dimensional space, how it can expand out and open up new curvatures as it moves through the depths and lengths of the space provided. Works like Orange (2009) for instance, unites a series of movements towards a unified point, but equally a point that seems to be in the midst of breaking down and reconstituting itself. A lone tongue of material seems to surge forth and double back on itself, ultimately giving the work the additional illusion of a life in movement. Price seems to tacitly understand this point, the freezing of material in mid movement, and how it can be suspended in perpetuity.
Yet equally his pieces are a question of material inquiries, of pushing his objects to embrace their own capabilities in a way that gives each work a personal, almost intimate knowledge of itself. Price’s understanding of just how bronze or clay can be made to speak, and how these interior narratives contribute to new modes of seeing. Rather than the hackneyed concept of the sculptor letting the material breathe life into an image, Price embraces materials in their becoming, allowing them to move towards new arrangements of that same material, a sort of honest self-knowledge that makes his pieces so fascinating.
The show closes December 22nd.
— D. Creahan
Ken Price: Sculpture [Matthew Marks]