ListenIntroduction by Andria Hickey Valérie BlassKatinka BockEsther KläsAllyson Vieira
Configurations brings together new and recent works by four artists who share a concern with one of the essential questions of sculpture: what happens when we walk around an object. They explore the nature of this experience in relation to the body—our own, as viewers, as well as those implied in the form and scale of the works on view. Slouching, standing tall, bent, or leaning, these freestanding objects suggest a human dimension that resonates in our experience of the work.
Each artist’s body is important to her process as a sculptor. Limbs, hands, and reach establish a set of limitations and opportunities that often function as a guiding principle in the studio. Taking an inventive and tactile approach to material and technique, their creative processes are both practical and intuitive. Improvisation and experimentation yield distinctive surfaces and textures that invite our touch. Forms inhabit the landscape in human configurations – huddled together or standing alone. As we move around these physically engaging works, we participate in a dialogue between the object and its surrounding environment.
This exhibition is curated by Andria Hickey.
Configurations: Valérie Blass, Katinka Bock, Esther Kläs, Allyson Vieira at MetroTech Center is part of an ongoing program organized by the Public Art Fund, and sponsored by MetroTech Commons Associates and MetroTech companies including Forest City Ratner Companies, JPMorganChase, National Grid, WellChoice, and Polytechnic Institute of New York University. Special thanks to Forest City Ratner Companies and First New York Partners.
Support for Valérie Blass’s Orca Gladiator, Sculpture Bidon, and Meuble Mécanique from Parisian Laundry. Support for Esther Kläs’s Gelift (RGB) from Peter Blum Gallery. Assistance provided by Galerie Jocelyn Wolf, Meyer Reigger, and Laurel Gitlen.
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COR-TEN steel, zinc, bronze, concrete
Corten Steel Shelter- 10' 6" x 6" x 5'
Bronze Figure and Basin- 7' x 4' 10"
Courtesy the artist and Meyer Reigger and Galerie Joceyln Wolff
This totem-like bronze figure rests just beneath a steel shelter. Like Bock’s other public works, the form has a poetic relationship to the outdoor environment. When it rains, the shelter directs water along the “face” of the figure, suggesting an emotional dimension to the inanimate object. The French title of the work, Personne, means both “person” and “nobody,” playing on the ambiguous physicality of the object.
Katinka Bock (b. 1976, Frankfurt am Main, Germany) has studied in Berlin, Dresden, Paris, and at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Lyon. Her work is included in numerous group exhibitions including Spacial City: An Architecture of Idealism at the Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago (2010); Here We Dance at the Tate Modern, London (2008); and La Jeune Creation Contemporaine at the Musee d’art Contemporain, Lyon (2005). Her solo shows include Katinka Bock – Personne – Chiado 8 at Arte Contemporanea, Lisbon (2012); Frischzelle_12: Katinka Bock at the Kuntsmuseum Stuttgart (2010); and Katinka Bock at the Kunstverein Nürnberg - Albrecht Durer Gesellschaft (2009), among others.
Orca Gladiator, 2012
Polystyrene, gypsum cement, epoxy compound, copper
90” x 54” x 31"
Sculpture Bidon, 2012
Laser print on granite
70" x 51" x 9"
(Meuble mécanique) marche pied, lampe-marteau, 2012
[(Mechanical Furniture) walking foot, lamp hammer]
Bronze, found objects
80” x 54” x 27"
Courtesy the artist and Parisian Laundry, Montreal
Valérie Blass’s sculptures frequently emerge from a process of improvisation and experimentation. Using found objects from different historical periods, she incorporates diverse sculptural techniques to create hybrid forms. Fused with a classical vocabulary, her work transforms the tradition of figurative sculpture. The two new works on view, Orca Gladiator and Sculpture Bidon are inspired by a turn-of-the-century photograph, and explore the tension between images and the objects they refer to. Like strange and distant twins, one object stands as a surreal mirror of the other in a completely different environment.
Valérie Blass (b. 1967, Montréal, Canada) holds a BFA and MFA in visual and media arts from Université du Québec à Montréal. Blass’ work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at The Musée d’art contemporain, Montréal (2012) and the Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art, Toronto (2009), as well as numerous galleries and Artist Run Centers in Montréal and Québec. Blass was invited to participate in the first Québec Triennial at The Musée d’art contemporain in Montréal (2008) and her work has been featured in group exhibitions at Galerie de l’UQAM, Montréal (2012); MASS MoCA. North Adams, MA (2012); Musée national des Beaux-Arts du Québec (2010); the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (2010); and The Power Plant, Toronto (2009). Her work is featured in numerous collections, notably the permanent collection of The National Gallery of Canada, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Musée contemporain de Montréal, the loan collection of The Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec, and The Royal Bank of Canada.
Gelift (RGB), 2012
Red: 46" x 30" x 32"
Green: 48" x 33" x 26"
Blue: 49" x 32" x 24"
Courtesy the artist and Peter Blum Gallery, NY
Esther Kläs’s hunched and anthropomorphic forms sit in a playful configuration that invites interaction. Cast in layers of pigmented aquaresin, the hollow mounds are abstract and yet evoke the shape of slouching figures. The forms offer a resting place for visitors and seem to call on spectators to complete the installation. Situated in the grass along a cement pathway, Gelift creates a poetic relationship between the static objects and our moving bodies.
Esther Kläs (b. 1981, Mainz, Germany) studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and received her MFA from Hunter College in New York City. She was the recent subject of the solo exhibition Better Energy at MoMA PS1. Her work has also been included in a number of prominent international exhibitions, including Immaterial, Ballroom Marfa, Texas (2011); Rise, Rose, Risen at Emily Harvey Foundation, Venice (2011); Knight’s Move at SculptureCenter, New York (2010); and Concrete Jungle Theatergalerie, Mönchengladbach, Germany (2008).
Weight Bearing V, 2012
Weight Bearing VI, 2012
Weight Bearing VII, 2012
Concrete, steel, paint
77" H x 77" W x 22" (each)
Torso (Archaic) II, 2012
Mirror, plaster, gloves, glue, concrete, Plaster-Weld, wax, duct tape, wire, and drywall
15 ¾” x 47 ¼” x 11 ½”
Torso (Severe) II, 2012
Mirror, plaster, concrete, plastic cup, resin, glue, Plaster-weld, wire, and glove
15 ¾” x 47 ¼” x 11 ½”
Torso (Decadent) II, 2012
Mirror, plaster, Plaster-Weld, chalk, concrete, watercolor, wax, gloves, paper cups, cloth, glassine, glue, and blade
15 ¾” x 47 ¼” x 11 ½”
Courtesy the artist and Laurel Gitlen, NY
Allyson Vieira’s post-and-lintel sculptures, Weight Bearing V-VII, draw on her interest in classical forms and their relationship to the body. Using her own height and stature to configure the forms, the columns suggest a figurative profile, while the arches recall Grecian architecture and the ancient monuments of Stonehenge. Likewise, the cinderblock towers and steel I-beams underscore connections to the modernist architecture of the adjacent building.
Allyson Vieira (b. 1979, Somerset, Massachusetts) holds a BFA from Cooper Union and an MFA from the Milton Avery Graduate School of Arts, Bard College. Vieira’s work has been included in numerous group exhibitions including Queens International 2012: Three Points Make a Triangle, Queens Museum of Art (2012); Lilliput, The High Line, New York (2012); and Knight’s Move at SculptureCenter, New York (2011).
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