Critics’ Picks

Sarah Sze, Checks and Balances (detail), 2011, stone, string, and ink on archival paper, 75 x 18 x 2".

Sarah Sze, Checks and Balances (detail), 2011, stone, string, and ink on archival paper, 75 x 18 x 2".

New York

Sarah Sze

Asia Society | New York
725 Park Avenue
December 15, 2011–March 25, 2012

Occupying adjacent galleries on the Asia Society’s second floor, eight new installations by Sarah Sze, all from 2011, meet with a selection of her works on paper from the past fifteen years. The juxtaposition of Sze’s installations with her prints, drawings, paper cuttings, and collages flaunts the artist’s fluidity working in both two and three dimensions and highlights the consistency of her peculiar aesthetic despite significant shifts in scale and means of production. In the installations and on paper, Sze’s spiraling vertical landscapes swarm with imagery (representational and invented) set within vertiginous and intricately latticed geographies. Any impression of chaos signaled by Sze’s whirling multiperspectival depictions of fantastic worlds, however, is calmed by the artist’s intense control and precision.

Several installations stretch from ceiling to floor, engaging the walls, corners, and, in certain cases, windows of the museum. In Random Walk Drawing (Eye Chart), 2011, a roll of delicately cut paper cascades down from the ceiling, echoing the elongated format Sze often uses to accommodate multiple perspectives on paper (a style that recalls traditional Chinese scroll painting). The artist’s consistent cadre of materials reinforces the visual coherence of her topographies, whether flat or three-dimensional. Razor blades, blue painter’s tape, string, and tape measures appear throughout both bodies of work and draw attention to the creative process. By incorporating tools and supports into her final artworks, Sze exposes how she conceives landscapes physically and metaphorically.

Moving between Sze’s works on paper and her installations affords the viewer a greater appreciation for both. The installations bring Sze’s involute drawings and intricate paper cuttings to life, offering viewers a chance to experience her otherworldly landscape on a human scale. The artist’s two-dimensional architectural imaginings, in turn, appear more viable when seen in conjunction with actual physical constructions.