Critics’ Picks

Ricky Swallow, (0), 2016–18, bronze and oil paint, 45 x 29 x 6 1/4".

Ricky Swallow, (0), 2016–18, bronze and oil paint, 45 x 29 x 6 1/4".

Los Angeles

Ricky Swallow

David Kordansky Gallery
5130 West Edgewood Place
November 2–December 15, 2018

Following the tangle of rope comprising Ricky Swallow’s sculpture (0), 2016–18, is both a demanding and rewarding task. Twenty-six feet of the braided cotton material, cast in bronze and painted the light wheat color of ship rigging, functions like a portal onto Swallow’s meticulous process. Look in the tiny crevices of the twisting rope and sense (see would be too strong a word) the bronze underneath—a dark jumble under a light exterior. The work’s casting is as convincing as its disavowal: Rope? Nope. In Floor Sculpture with Pegs #1 and #2 (both 2018) cast bronze Shaker pegs are lined up on their rounded points and attached to coursing, curvilinear banisters; the sculptures’ monochrome treatments formally suggest that these two handily recognizable domestic embellishments are a new, quixotic thing. Installed on the floor, they relay a centipede-like energy (each has close to a hundred pegs)—playfully recalling Louise Bourgeois’s many-legged wooden composite, The Blind Leading the Blind, 1947–49/1989.

Swallow’s most rewarding and confounding sculpture here is Cap #2, 2018—a coffee cup cast in bronze, patinated silver, and installed with its base flat to the vertical wall. Four perfect spheres are affixed like compass points inside the cup’s rim. A small, shallow abstract diorama in the midst of much larger gestures, Cap #2 calls attention to the artist’s signal material substitutions via the linguistic transit from cup (vessel) to cap (costume), leveraging the doubt inherent in acts of sculptural and linguistic representation.