Los Angeles

Robert Cremean

Esther-Robles Gallery

This well-known young craftsman is deservedly the best Mannerist juggler of the tour-de-force in figurative sculpture. From a gesture’s initial conception to the final polish one feels only tension in the introduction of clearly stated problems, resolved by an over-riding intellect abetted by a skilled hand.

Involved in a series of historically approved substitutions, Cremean now indulges in directly carved and refined trompe l’oeil. Formal, mechanical, and smoothly controlled mannequins, made from laminated wood sections, are released from those blocks to the extreme point that, on superficial viewing, we may be led to believe “Main Fragment for a Disputed Curia” and “Two Figures Under an Arbor” may be nothing more than clever assemblages of geometric parts. In an astounding performance of more is less, he calls attention, not to the figure or its meaning, but to the material’s malleability and his own technical facility. Unable to fit certain expressive details into the highly stylized schema, facial features disappear; hands and feet are replaced by the architecture of newel posts, or by the instant ruins of a faked internal support (metal bar) protruding from the offending, severed limb. In retrospect, terminations have always appeared less seriously thought out, regardless of the gesture’s theatricality, when compared to the real, rational delight in Baroque shiftings of interior masses.

To his ever-growing list of contrasts (of manipulative combinations as surfaces, materials, colors, parts, poses, supports) Cremean adds the condition of the unfinished, derived from Michelangelo but twisted into yet another unspontaneous element. The genre “Disrobing Figure” integrates the disparateness well, as do the vaguely humorous and tattered trio of Loie Fullers, “Running,” “Jumping,” and “Flying.”

Totally, this fashionable troupe strikes one as in grown and narcissistic. They move in soulless and sluggish indecision, absorbed in displaying the charms of their non-functional anatomy only insofar as it reflects a monumental demonstration of evasion and glibness.

Fidel A. Danieli