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Review: Valentin Carron's 'Inca, Cargo, Goal' at David Kordansky

November 08, 2012|By Christopher Knight | Los Angeles Times Art Critic
  • Cast-bronze reliefs, upholstered walls and fiberglass sculptures make up Valentin Carron's "Inca, Cargo, Goal" installation.
Cast-bronze reliefs, upholstered walls and fiberglass sculptures make… (David Kordansky Gallery )

The eccentric and compelling sculptures and wall reliefs of Swiss artist Valentin Carron take appropriation art in strange directions. Existing objects remain essentially intact, but the transformation in materials makes for surprising results.

Carron's debut exhibition at David Kordansky Gallery includes musical instruments -- three trumpets, two saxophones, a couple of French horns and a clarinet -- that have been squashed flat and cast in bronze. The patina is a weird, sickly pink flesh-color; hanging on gallery walls, the reliefs have the look of flayed skin.

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Look closely, and some of those walls are subtly upholstered in pinstripe shirt fabric. The room is sharply dressed.

In the center of the space, two sculptures duplicate midcentury stone carvings by Ödön Koch, a relatively obscure Swiss Constructivist artist. One is tall and rectilinear, the other squat; the latter work seems to mash together an ovoid, a cube and a pyramid -- geometries that reflect a utilitarian and idealizing Utopian spirit.

Carron's versions, however, are made from carefully painted, visually detectable fiberglass. They feel as if they might float in water. Like the musical instruments and the shirt cloth, the sculptural forms are empty husks. Nothing Utopian there.

The sculptures recall the old Surrealist game of exquisite corpse in which a player draws on a sheet of paper, folds it to conceal part of the drawing and then passes it to the next player for a further addition. (The show's conundrum of a title -- "Inca, Cargo, Goal" -- does something similar, making a nonsense poem by repeating the last two letters of a word in the first two letters of the next, wholly unrelated word.) Carron plays the game with sculptural materials, however, which disembodies worn-out ideas and creates a quirky frame for new ones.

David Kordansky Gallery, Unit A, 3143 S. La Cienega Blvd., Culver City, (310) 558-3030, through Dec. 8. Closed Sunday and Monday. www.davidkordansky.com

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