Sunday, November 16, 2014


by Drew Martin
I like the current show, MULTIPOLARITY by Reuven Israel, at the Fridman Gallery on Spring Street in SoHo because of its post-found object, post-pop nature, which means Israel is modern without being lazy or blatantly referential. He favors an exact industrious approach and is timeless.

For MULTIPOLARITY, Israel has made a series of curious high-glossed and multi-colored objects, which are unidentifiable in function but are all fairly simple shapes. Most of these forms, which are made of MDF plywood and coated with car-shop quality layers of paint, are fitted along copper-coated steel rods.

While the rods seem to just have an obvious structural role, they actually are much more important because they have tradesman feel to them 
like copper tubing in plumbing or copper wire in electrical work. This familiarity connects us with the sculpture on a practical level, which then leads us to have a look at the body of work not just from a pure aesthetic appreciation of the shapes, but that maybe these forms have function.

The conductive properties of the copper and steel give the sculptures an oversized transistor look, which makes you feel shrunken. At the same time, the objects are sometimes arranged in such a way that they reference axles, or better yet; barbells, which thereby give the pieces a very heavy feeling.

Surprisingly, this makes me think of two famous artists, who did the opposite: Calder, who gave his mobiles a lightness through movement, and Rodin, whose heavy bronzes had deep shiny surfaces that played with light in such a way that they can feel as light as impressionist paintings.

Most importantly, the rods establish alignment, and with that: symmetry and perspective lines. While there are many artists that come to mind in terms of this kind of structure, such as Sol LeWitt and Walter De Maria, I actually first thought about Stanley Kubrick’s use of symmetry in his film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. His alignment reflected a higher thought, which was meant to help bring order to Earthly creatures with random and base actions. What Israel offers us is this kind of direction but his interchangeability of parts also creates a playful, puzzle assembly to his work, which is actually his approach to the composition of the sculptures.