Critics’ Picks

View of “Bosco Sodi,” 2016.

View of “Bosco Sodi,” 2016.

London

Bosco Sodi

Blain|Southern | London
4 Hanover Square
April 20–June 12, 2016

The Japanese art of kintsugi—the treatment of cracked or broken pottery with gold lacquer—stems from a philosophical embrace of imperfection. Seams of precious metal trace the jagged fault lines of an object; gold can elevate, but does not mask, these traces of the vessel’s history. Bosco Sodi’s art is forged in a similar spirit of deference for raw materials and natural processes. If you look closely enough at one of his ceramic-glazed volcanic rock sculptures (all works cited Untitled, 2016), a subtle line of gold-on-gold pigment might catch the light, revealing its meandering path across the work’s textured surface.

True to the philosophy of wabi sabi, which has long informed Sodi’s practice, each of the thirty-two rock sculptures featured in his latest exhibition is uniquely shaped and draws focus to the interplay of opposites: the roughness of igneous rock with the smoothness of ceramic glaze. Of varying sizes, these are arranged seemingly haphazardly throughout the gallery, requiring the viewer to walk carefully, even contemplatively, around the space. Such is Sodi’s vision: This show, titled for the concept of Yūgen—defined in faint handwritten script on the entrance wall as the “profound and mysterious beauty of the universe that cannot be described by words”—is laid out like a Japanese garden and invites a reflective mode of viewing.

Sodi has extended his ongoing series of sawdust-and-pigment “paintings,” previously executed in hues such as magenta, charcoal, and ochre. His latest output is strangely suited to spring in England, its palette reminiscent of ash and moss. These appear like grand topographies of cracked earth, and, as with the volcanic rock sculptures, they betray a sense of time and process—melting and cooling, drying and congealing—and of the beauty in roughness.