New York

George Sugarman

Fischbach Gallery

Where Steiner fails to capitalize upon the use of color in order to articulate (rather than equivocate) sculptural ideas, George Sugarman, showing at the Fischbach Gallery, succeeds to a greater extent. This is of course due to fundamental differences in formal organization and aim, but it also points to the fact that color need not always be felt as a superfluous feature of plastic form. In his four-part sculpture Yellow to White to Blue to Black (in which the last two parts are coupled) Sugarman emphasizes the separateness of each unit by both spatial disposition (the pieces are set at intervals in a line across the floor) and by painting each whole section a different color. The blue piece is colored white on the inside and its counterpart is blue and black, but that, too, has the effect of clarifying the distinction between inner and outer surfaces. While color points to diversity, the low level and modest, compact proportions of each element work to unify the whole sequential arrangement. Certain affinities exist formally as well: trough-like depressions, arcing planes, and geometrically shaped spatial perforations are the vocabulary for all the pieces. And yet each section is basically different in quality—the spreading openness of the white piece, in which a thin triangular frame evolves into a U-shaped plane, is in direct contrast to the pair of rotund blue and black forms, which have the look of weighty machinery parts, indivisibly and analogously mated, yet separate in function and identity.

In Twofold, a bold two-part organization of standing sections, each eight feet high, color does not seem to have as much formal significance as it does optical or emotional impact; and yet one never feels here that it is entirely necessary to the interplay between the two structures. The red half is formed of two bowed vertical shafts joined at both top and bottom by zigzagged cross-pieces—the whole having an effect of torquing the space through which the brilliant yellow half of the set may be seen. This yellow piece repeats the bow ed element, and stands like a giant ribcage, with its right-angled “ribs” pushing vigorously into space. From almost any position the two sect ions relate vividly, in silhouette and in terms of space—but this seems to have little to do with the particular differences in color, sumptuous as they are. Here, however, space it self takes on a more active and versatile role than with the more static four-part sequence. It penetrates between the ribs, circulating around and in between the two large frames, which also deform it as the eye passes through each of the sections. A sense of mobile agility and a scale which has greater physicality make this work more competent, to my eye, than the slightly stiff pieces exhibited across the room in four parts.

Emily Wasserman