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June 19, 2008|PAUL YOUNG

An increasing number of sculptors are turning to fabricators these days, those industrial companies who specialize in making large-scale commercial products such as street signs or cars. (In fact, I would argue that it's the defining trend of art in the Bush era.)

But for Joel Morrison, 32, a former West Coast artist residing in Berlin, that process simply allows him to refine his practice that much further. Ten years ago, he was wrapping everyday objects in foam and gaffer's tape to create roughshod, biomorphic forms that somehow referred to art history (a Henry Moore sculpture, for instance). Today, with fabricators' help, he's doing the same thing, only with hugely expensive, and gorgeously rendered, stainless steel.

Therefore, his hand can be felt only in the way in which he combines found objects (bear traps, sausages, grapes, bullets, etc.) into surreal objects, which are later cast into steel. In other words, his hand has been eclipsed by the gloss of fabrication.

That raises a lot of interesting questions, especially when you consider that he composed his current body of work not for his adopted home of Berlin, but L.A. --specifically the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills (gagosian.com; ends July 18). "In the end you want a beautiful object [for L.A.]," he says of the show, titled "Circus." "Whereas in Germany it might be a little more about the concept."

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-- theguide@latimes.com

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