Los Angeles

Robert Cremean

Esther-Robles Gallery

Late sculpture continues to reflect Cremean’s refined intellectuality, sensuousness and nostalgia. He continues to draw freely upon other art forms. Often he conceives architecturally, building his pieces. He joins parts with the skill of a cabinetmaker. Now he will choose to draw in line upon his work, again he makes space function as line. He achieves double effects by blotting out sculptural masses in white. Sometimes they are mass, sometimes space, and between them appear shapes that become linear arabesques, accounting in part for his elegance. Cremean’s virtues tend to be unpopular, mistrusted virtues: cleverness, wit, a refined sensibility, an excruciating polish. These are the tools of his temperament and he uses them as seriously as did Proust, de Sade, or Beardsley. In a world of clumsy honesty and blunted sensibility he is a rare bird.

Extreme postures and witty transitions emphasized his attraction to the 16th century. Cremean’s thoughts remain in the past, his values exquisitely sensual, his technique still based in articulated geometric forms of wood and other stuffs. Yet where that technique was additive it has become cohesive. Violent contrapost is diminished. Figures once pushed beyond resolution into decay now rest, evolving from geometry to organic form. Key works in this change are four variations upon The Death of Marat. Many recent figures grow from rectangular solids. Two of the Marats rest in ovals. Cremean has observably shifted his thoughts from mannerism to classicism, its calm and its restraint.

But this is now. Cremean is not making the past, he is using it. His statements become psychological. Figures twist within their stable envelopes, we are tense. And yet, trapped as they are, often presenting us their still, symmetrical view as primary, they remain passive. Their passivity is heightened by their slowly worked surfaces. Naturally they are esthetically finished, but in a state of incompletion. They are attentive of the sculptor’s caress. The artist does not let go of his creations; we are made constantly aware of his very particular personality.

William Wilson