Molly Smisko’s exciting new clay work is breathtaking
Molly Smisko’s exciting new clay work is breathtaking in its visual acuity and mathematical precision. Its lightness and simplicity of form and its mastery of the raw materials are the most convincing aspects of this exhibition. The works exhibited were presented in a large, brightly lit gallery, and the floor, set on wooden tables, was covered with soft clay, arranged in a way that creates a pretty landscape. Although the show didnt include all of the work, its richness of variation and its eclectic quality are striking.Smisko’s clay sculptures are small, and her previous work has been found in an intimate setting. At the time of the show, the artist stated, I had done something that was about seven feet high and seven feet wide, and that involved about eight to ten feet between the pieces. The material is clay, and the pieces are made of it. I find it much easier to work with the pieces, to be involved with the material as a whole. The floor of the gallery was paved with a clay tile, which she used to create a kind of landscape within the small piece. The tile was so smooth and so soft that the clay particles seemed to be floating, floating between two planes of action, two distinct but distinct trajectories of movement. The piece consisted of four separate elements: three bricks, a rectangle of clay, and a circle of clay. The bricks were placed in a grid formation that extended from the corner of the gallery toward the back wall of the space. The bricks and the grid formed a single, complementary plane. The grid was repeated on the bricks and the clay. Each of the pieces was made of clay in a different color. The combination of clay and brick was clearly distinct from the other pieces in the show. Smisko’s work is a complex assemblage, a dense, tactile and spatial presence. The piece is placed on the floor on three sides, and its three parts are arranged in a way that creates a sense of spatial movement.
Molly Smisko’s exciting new clay work is breathtakingly straightforward: two marble blocks, slightly concave and slightly concave, are placed on a gray paper plane in a fashion reminiscent of the cardboard boxes of Minimalism. Each block has a slightly different form, and each has a different colored surface. A small, flat square block with a black-red surface is set into the gray paper like a heavy slab, while a smaller block of gray paper has been cut out of the same square gray paper and placed next to it. The result is a deliciously brittle, slightly uneven, and irregularly cut surface that does not appear to be the same size as the larger, flat block. Smisko uses it to make all the blocks more or less match, a playful, almost melodramatic balance of form and content that suggests a world of balance between the two. The work, in other words, represents a challenge to the conventional notion of sculpture as a two-dimensional work of art and an idea of sculpture as a three-dimensional object. But Smisko herself does not seem to have any problem with the idea of a two-dimensional object, and so the work has no real problem with the idea of a three-dimensional object, either. Smisko seems to think that a two-dimensional work is only a two-dimensional representation if it is made of marble, and so the work is neither two-dimensional nor three-dimensional.Smiskos work has been viewed as an indictment of the old-master tradition of the artist as an antiquarian. But the work is not so much an indictment as a meditation on the ways in which two-dimensional representation can be used to defamiliarize sculpture, which, according to Smisko, can be used to make the art of the past as we understand it today.
, and in a way that is surprising in a medium whose potential is not yet fully developed. Although she has not yet had a solo show in New York, the cumulative effect of the four untitled paintings on view at the gallery would seem to suggest that she is ready to take on the task of meeting it.
Molly Smisko’s exciting new clay work is breathtaking. Her clay sculptures are like imaginative worlds of their own, filled with half-finished fantasies of creatures that were once imagined, now lost to sight, and half-imagined, now present. The work here consisted of three distinct bodies of clay: one, a small, squat, broken body; another, a long, squat, broken body, which is carved and polished to a point of impermanence; and a third, a large, hollow, head with a head that is carved and polished, and filled with a small, carved and polished egg. Each one of these sculptures is a broken, individual clay figure, and they have been cast from the same clay; but each one is at the same time a fragment of a larger body, and the cast is made into a crude, irregular, irregular body. The figures are all impassive, hard-edged, and they seem to have been created by a great deal of effort, but they have a certain authority and they are like headless torsos, with no legs. In fact, they are not quite heads at all, but they are more like pregnant figures with an inner life, without their outer, or rather without their outer, faces. They are the self-portraits of clay heads. The cast is polished and polished, like a polished knife. Each sculpture is a self-portrait in its own right, but it is an ironic self-portrait, since it is a sculpture of a figure, and of a head. They are like the figures of a child in love, a self-portrait that has been effaced, but which remains only a figure in a self-portrait.
Molly Smisko’s exciting new clay work is breathtaking in its audacity. It is a spacey abstraction of sound and space, a richly nuanced zone of tension between the two. Smisko has made a compelling choice of medium, and she has used clay, a relatively new material for this artist. The artist has transformed clay into a living sculpture and into a set of terrariums that appear to inhabit a circular space. Each terrarium is a five-foot-high metal cube with a wooden base. The base is circular, and each terrarium is surrounded by a mesh of glass, which partially obscures the view from the outside. The glass is a window, and the terrarium is a bridge between two walls of glass. Each terrarium is covered with plaster and is surrounded by a screen of glass. The opening of one terrarium has the appearance of an interior, and the terarium is a triangle that gives rise to a triangle of mirrored rectangles. A slender metal arm extends from each of the three terraria in the series, leaving a gap between the glass and the terrarium in the form of a scalloped arch. The balance between the transparent and the transparent inside and outside of the terrarium is subtly stressed by the friction between the two materials and the physicality of the material.Smisko has been working with clay for over ten years, and the clay is no longer an exotic exotic element. This fact does not diminish the fascination of her work. The change in medium is a major part of the works impact, and the change in material is its most compelling element. In previous series of sculpture that incorporate clay, the surface was a reflective surface, a rough, rough-edged surface that made it hard to see the work as sculpture. This exhibition demonstrates Smiskos ability to realize the complexity of the shifting spatial relations of her new works.The spatial relations in the terrarium sculptures are more complicated than those in the terrariums.