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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Sculpture 2012

26 artists, 39 works and a sign of the visual arts calender getting into full swing.
By Bethany Small
January 23, 2012
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By Bethany Small
January 23, 2012
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26 artists, 39 works and a sign of the visual arts calender getting into full swing, this show is a nice continuation of Brenda May Gallery's tradition of opening up each year with a sculpture survey show. Except on the viewing end one does not so much 'survey' as 'ooh and ahh', 'wonder how it is even possible for a person to do that', 'resist the temptation to check one's lipstick in the ones with reflective surfaces' and 'remember not to touch'.

Sculpture explores materiality in a really important way: while any artwork (or any object) is possessed of thinghood, it's almost impossible for a sculpture to not be thoroughly metaphysical because the properties of how it has been made and what it has been made out of are foregrounded in how we make sense of it. Sculpture has potential to be both abstract and figurative at the same time, and this can be deployed to interesting ends. Oliver Tanner's Reclining Steel Figure, for instance, is what it says it is, but is so evocative in its lines as to create a real sense of human embodiment, and those two qualities stand (recline?) in a sort of syllogistic opposition. Or take Jimmy Rix's Stumpy, a truncated-looking chainsaw — stumpy in form — carved out of ironbark timber (a stump of it). Irony!

Looking at sculpture is looking at the clever human ability to make things into and out of what they are not, requiring awareness of how shapes and materials and ideas all inform the way we understand what something is, and that what it is is what it means. And — honest! — it feels like a less convoluted project than I've described it as here when you're doing it.

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