New York

Robert Hudson

Frumkin Gallery

Five works are an entire year’s production of sculpture for Robert Hudson. Small wonder they are so few since these welded, polychromed works are infinitely complex mazes. Violently garish, the powerfully composed sculptures make every attempt to deny their sculptural massiveness and try every trick to be pictorial. Basically welded out of steel the works often have a boneless inflated grace which makes one think of the buoyant figures of Lachaise or the delicate balloon transfers of Agostini. The works are absurd and extremely moving, paralleling, in part, the comic-strip vulgarity of Peter Saul.

Hudson’s technical command is breathtaking. Complex interlocking forms (both real and trompe-l’oeil) playfully romp with intensely powerful macaronic cylinders. Biomorphic shapes transmogrify into geometric forms. Everywhere screaming lacquers and applied surface decorations discredit essential sculptural forms. Flat cut-out shapes are repeated in painted trickster shadows. Dense impenetrable forms are camouflaged with exquisitely unpeeling membranes. Open steel grids—pierced by bars or circles, are superimposed with abstract patterns that function in contrary ways, in patterns (both optical and poptical) discontinuous with the forms beneath.

Hudson additionally spices his work with a malicious literary-visual punning: real holes beside painted ones, real shadows beside painted ones, real forms beside their structural outlines, weighty forms which trail into linear arabesques.

The hysterical enormity of Eyepiece grows out of a decorous little four legged table. A huge Untitled balances a steel bicycle tube with arteriosclerosis on a watermelon-like socle. In T-table a convex mirror enframes the startled perplexity of a bewildered spectator. Hudson’s pieces are meticulous, fabulous, endless shaggy-dog sculptures whose shenanigans are passionate, funny and sensuously spendthrift.

Robert Pincus-Witten