New York

Tom Doyle

Candace Dwan Gallery

Tom Doyle’s show at the Dwan Gallery consists of just two large polychrome sculptures, but has ample satisfaction for all this limitation. His recent work is a move away from the attenuated whittled volumes of his former style to an exclusive concern with huge planes of simple configuration bent and sprung through space. The traditional preoccupations of sculpture with the disposition of massy volumes is no longer a part of Doyle’s approach. The smooth colored surfaces he favors are flung billowing out grandly or flopped across struts to remain poised or slack, expressing energies and states that have to do with an experience of area and extent uncannily more complete than the conceptualizations of these qualities which we ordinarily find so convincing. The explanation lies in Doyle’s driving rhythms sweeping about in an environmental scale, and the topographical implications of his floor piece.

The large whirling La Vergne draws one irresistibly into its helical core to find stability and reassurance in the irregular, precise dark olive strut that elbows out to catch a swelling pink sheet. Doyle’s other piece here, Over Owl’s Creek, is a footbridge sort of arrangement in hot orange that dangles a long sweeping form between two low supporting members. At either end curved ramps spread out and down like geometric petals. The lift and dive of these various surfaces have a lazy Leviathan undulation for seventeen feet across the floor.

That one can stroll into, across, or along these works does not, of course, endow them with any merit or even interest ipso facto. Nowadays these formats are commonplace. The special quality and interest of Doyle’s pieces are that within this format he metaphorically presents an original experience of space, both as a delimited but penetrable volume and as an area that is visually manifest not only from a single “Schauseit” but capable of infinite shifts and alternative natures as it is traversed. This latter consideration has been dealt with too by Anthony Caro. In his sprawling constructions the steel members insist on their previous identity in the finished work in such a way as occasionally to distract one from the spatial experience they attempt to formulate. There is a gain of immediacy in Doyle’s pieces, I think, because the associations their component elements have as materials are not detectable beneath the arbitrary, handsome color, and the immaculate technique reveals little or nothing about the processes of construction. This refinement of execution is so great as to be almost completely self-effacing and allows each sculpture to resound with an extremely pure lyricism of implied movement and directional progression.

Dennis Adrian