March 14th, 2012
Texas Gallery: “New Sculptures and Drawings” by Joel Shapiro
So much of art today has lost its sincerity, imagination, and truth. Joel Shapiro’s work at Texas Gallery encompasses all these aspects and so much more. As I walk around the gallery space there is a feeling that I’m in the MFAH looking at a number of classical works. I am confronted by one of Shapiro’s large sculptures. Unititled 2010 Bronze measuring 48 3/8 x 25 7/8 x19 1/8 is very elegant. I like to call it “The Soccer Player” because it looks like he just kicked a goal. Its bronze sheen is so slick it could be mistaken for wood. Shapiro is very well known for this configuration. An image of a man or what I deem a Lego-Man considering his rectangular geometric parts. It has a head, two arms in the air, a rectangular torso, and one leg extended forward while the other is connected to a white pedestal.
Untitled 2010 (Bronze) — 48-3/8″ x 25-7/8″ x 19-1/8″
Shapiro definitely thinks like a carpenter pondering the best way to present and securing his sculptures in the most elaborate of ways. He pays close attention on how to maneuver line and material to the plane and the ground. As I move to the front of the main gallery. There is another sculpture; Untitled 1997 Oil on wood 24 ½ x 38 ½ x 24 ½ that is working off the large wall. Many of Shapiro’s pieces not only define space, his sculptures bring attention to it, and they interrupt space and own the area they are in. Not just by existing there but by posing, twisting, and being a part of the third dimension.
Untitled 2011 (Charcoal, Chalk, and Pastel) — 33-1/2″ x 28-1/8″
The sculptures in the show feel very unrestricted. Many seem like they are falling, or bending somehow. A feeling of play and imagination comes over me. I start to think that Shapiro’s work could be seen as a metaphor on how to live freely, unrestrained, and happy. The Artist definitely forces the viewer to use his imagination to see what he has given birth to.
Untitled 2010 (Cast Aluminum) — 19-1/4″ x 18″ x 10-3/8″
Before leaving one of Shapiro’s drawings catches my eye. Untitled 2011, done in charcoal, chalk and pastel 33 ½ x28 ½ is so bright one can’t ignore its impact. The image is of four various rectangles one sky blue, one tangerine, one bright orange and one in black charcoal. I like that you can still see the pencil lines where Shapiro drew the image. Cleanly executed it must have been an intense performance executing its overlapping effect. Shapiro questions how color, depth, and space are all entangled into one issue.
Untitled 2001 (Bronze) — 100 1/4″ x 80 1/2″ x 33 1/2″
Houston is very lucky to have one of Shapiro’s permanent sculptures at the Cullen Sculpture Garden at the Glassell School of Art. It doesn’t really matter what Shapiro uses as a material. The artist has created a body of work that continues to grow with history. He is undeniably a genius. With so much junk in the Art world it is great to see an artist who is sincere and honest in his creative ability.
Texas Gallery (2012 Peden, Houston, TX 77019)
“New Sculptures and Drawings” by Joel Shapiro
February 3rd through March 31st, 2012
Also of Note (Above): Joel Shapiro’s “New Installation” at Rice Gallery (6100 Main Street, Houston, TX 77005). On view through March 18th, 2012.
Submitted by Jesse Kantu