Critics’ Picks

Vincent Fecteau, Untitled, 2011, gypsum cement, resin clay, and synthetic-polymer paint, 16 x 24 x 23 1/2".

Berlin

Vincent Fecteau

Galerie Buchholz | Berlin
Fasanenstraße 30
September 14–October 27, 2012

In Vincent Fecteau’s first Berlin exhibition, formalist strategies are shanghaied; as in much of his recent work, techniques of casting, carving, and modeling are here deployed in ways that would be appreciated more by Jean Arp than Jeff Koons. Fecteau doesn’t want to do a sculpture’s thinking for it. In his commitment to finding form via pushing material around by hand, any conceptualism is reduced to a prompt—albeit an extremely important one, after which form does the talking. The four larger sculptures here, Fecteau’s largest to date, are made with papier-mâché, though for the first time a core of insulating foam is used as the initial structure, rather than a beach ball, as was the case in his previous sculpture. An additional three sculptures complete the exhibition; all were shown in the most recent Whitney Biennial and were made using clay forms and gypsum cement casts cut and reassembled. These materials, too, are new to Fecteau, and they permit him more versatility of form. The achievement is that despite often bumping up against the likeness of a Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, or Anthony Caro sculpture, Fecteau continues to invent without being inhibited by these passing similarities.

Just as more complexity is evident due to more flexible technical procedures, so Fecteau’s boldness with color has increased. The sculptures are presented on either white tables or white plinths; there is little variation in height, allowing for the impression of a waist-high plateau through which we can walk. The pieces’ colors are often split: Take Untitled, 2011, where an uneasy intense green contrasts with an inert dirty pink, the two halves like a knuckle joint. One dark violet line stretches across the surface, though this reads more like a physical abrasion than a color accent. It is an idea of temporal three-dimensionality that Fecteau investigates: As viewers move about, each view of a work yields seamlessly into another, all together forming something akin to a slow, cinematic tracking shot.