at Klaudia Marr
Susan York is a New
Mexico-based artist who has been showing small sculptural
pieces as well as spare large-scale installations in the Minimalist vein
for over 20 years. Her striking body of work and systematic
methods—influenced by the Con-structivist and De Stijl movements as well
as ancient Greek premises of geometry—adroitly provoke tensions between
space and form.
This recent show,
aptly titled “Center of Gravity,” featured a series of wall pieces (all
from 2003) ranging from 2 ½ to 7 inches high and 4 to 18 ½ inches wide,
constructed of multiple sheets of paper-thin porcelain, most in a
restrained palette of subtly varied whites and light yellows. In some
works, the elements number in the hundreds, each individually formed and
fired before being united in a geometric configuration. Through a
meticulous process, the exquisite shards are either piled horizontally
aligned vertically to stand on edge. Some
stacks are displayed on discreet metal shelving while others are secured
by wooden supports inspired by Gerrit Rietveld’s chairs. As they yield
three-dimensional versions (tran-gulated wedges, spherical and cubic
volumes) from initially two dimensional formats (circles, polygons,
etc.), these arrange-ments are curiously reminiscent of Eva Hesse’s small
molded latex pieces From the 60’s.
The stark beauty of the unpolished chalky surfaces—barely distinguish-able against the gallery’s white walls – combines
with the Thinness of the elements to offer an illusion of
weightlessness. Ironically, York subverts this sublimity with the
powerful suggestion of impending collapse and subsequent shat-tering.
Additionally perturbing in relation to the work’s serially repetitive
aspect is the trace of the artist’s hand, revealed in the small, varied
surface rippling, frayed edges and slight warping unique to each sheet.
In The Color of
ragged edges of rectangular cream-colored shards slant precariously on
an inconspicuous 16-inch-long steel shelf hung on a slight incline. Its
potentially disastrous trajectory and its simultaneous sense of calm are
entirely up to individual perceptions.
The show included several similar
stacked compositions in vibrant blues that de-livered quite a different
impression. In contrast to its paler counterparts, for instance the
intense color saturations of The Color of Cobalt, No.1—a
trape-zeiumlike form anchored with beechwood brackets—accentuated its
objectness and exacting craftsmanship, making this and other
color-infused works easier to grasp but not as intriguing.
Ultimately, through witty and
poetic compromises, York’s works negotiate a delicate balance between
the con-ceptual and the material, between control and im-pulse, between
order and chaos.
—Sarah S. King