San Francisco

Joe Clark and Ernest Rosenthal

Quay Gallery

Clark’s sculpture in welded sheet steel ambitiously attempts to re-create the heroic quality of high Baroque in terms of contemporary junk sculpture. The irony of his ambition must be clear to Clark since his inclusion of a piece of automobile trim doubling as a sword in the hand of one warrior-effigy is a jolting commentary on the work’s contemporaneousness. The copulating dead or dying man-woman warrior hero seems to be a trap into which any number of sculptors fall and out of which few appear to emerge with tangible results. Clark’s smaller, more quiescent pieces, with their carefully articulated surfaces, are works with infinitely more poise and genuine monumentality.

Rosenthal’s virtuoso draftsmanship resolves itself in a series of charcoal drawings complementing Clark’s sculpture. Both artists use torn and rended shapes to produce the human image and yet Rosenthal manages to convey a genuine feeling for the pictorial dynamism underlying Baroque art. Seminal influences in Rosenthal’s art such as de Kooning and Gorky are interesting to note because he uses their methods in order to explore the past perhaps more thoroughly than he could have had they not been predecessors.

James Monte