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blue and orange
blue and orange sculpture

Richard Rezac, Chigi, 2017, painted maple, cast Hydrocal, aluminum, 45 × 69 × 43". Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York

For his solo exhibition “Pleat,” Richard Rezac transformed the gallery into a cabinet of wonders. All fourteen of the objets d’art on display—two mobiles, two stabiles, and ten wall pieces—were curious constructions, at once eccentric and rarefied. His sculptures occasionally call to mind pieces by Alexander Calder in their formal inventiveness, but are more gnomic and, of course, less monumental. Each work is crafted from an ingenious combination of contradictory materials, such as hard inorganic metal or cement (aluminum, bronze, Hydrocal) and soft organic wood (cherry, maple, pine), the dialectical conundrums suggesting the inherent absurdity of art by reason of its alienness to lived experience, its remoteness from reality.

Rezac’s Zeno, 2021—a rectangular, wall-mounted object made from a waxed pine panel and three slabs of cast bronze—is named after Greek philosopher Zeno of Elea and, to my mind, was the show’s touchstone. Zeno’s “dichotomy paradox” tells us that when an object is divided into two halves, the whole of it must correspond to one half or the other, indicating that while these elements are indeed complementary, they are essentially opposites because each part cannot be fundamentally alike. I believe that Rezac’s works demonstrate an artistic truth within Zeno’s concept, for virtually all of the sculptures in this recent show were marriages of form and color that were interrelated yet antipodal. Take the sky-blue and milky-orange sections of Chigi, 2017, a peculiar floor-based sculpture that looks like a pair of reconfigured guardrails. In one region of the piece, tangerine posts mingle with their cerulean counterparts—difference and similarity are simultaneous and inseparable. Chigi alludes to the Chigi Chapel in Rome, hence the work’s cloudlike component, rendered in a virginal white and supporting one side of the structure. But Rezac strips the church of its lavish Baroque ornamentation to reveal some kind of essential truth behind the edifice’s glorious facade. His work is an homage to traditional art as well as a repudiation (or even a trivialization) of it, for its heavenly cloud is no more than a footstool on which one leg of his colorful work rests.

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