Critics’ Picks

Richard Serra, TTI London, 2007, two torqued tori of weatherproof steel, each 14 x 35".


Richard Serra

Gagosian Gallery
6-24 Britannia Street
November 4–December 20, 2008

The thrill induced by Richard Serra’s sculptures doesn’t come from the sense that they might crash down at any moment. As this exhibition proves, it occurs due to the delicate manner in which they stay up, and the subtle way Serra manages to bend our experience around them. TTI London, 2007, comprises two sandblasted torqued steel tori standing in a long room. Each is the inversion of the other, a reversal that creates two spaces that seem to warp and flare in completely different ways. Standing inside them is a dizzying experience, but it is nothing compared with the vertigo provoked by Open Ended, 2007–2008, a looming maze of sloping steel. Instinctively, one adjusts against its tilt, an irrational overcorrection that feels crucial if one wants to avoid toppling over. The path splinters in the sculpture’s center, before one exits at the other end. The smaller sculptures have similarly unsettling effects. Fernando Pessoa, 2007–2008, is a wall of flaking blue-gray steel; the work is long enough to feel like it splits the room it occupies without completely slicing it in two. In Forged Drawing, 2008, four shaped pieces of steel are covered in a thin layer of oil stick and hang on walls like paintings, denying their own weight. This is Serra at his most generous, disorienting best, offering just enough to make viewers question how they understand space, as they wobble and weave their way through this excellent show.