New York

Sylvia Stone

Tibor de Nagy Gallery

The gentle, precise elegance which characterizes Sylvia Stone’s tinted plexiglass constructions is not able ultimately, I feel, to overcome the more dominant impact of the incongruity of their hanging, wall-projecting, or floor-spanning states. While Miss Stone does not attempt to conceal the literalness with which each shaped expanse of plexiglass inhabits our space—the large freestanding piece, for instance, supporting itself very obviously by means of a neat rectangular outgrowth of the same material—neither does she in any way contend with the literalness. She seems merely to borrow the free-standing state of sculpture, or the wall-hanging state of painting, in order that each work be seen by the viewer in the appropriate way, as it were. Her easy acceptance of the supporting function of the ceiling, walls, and floor of a given room as integral to the existence of her art, confers on the kind of perspectival and volumetric illusionism which she exploits a curiously mechanical and nullifying kind of resolution.

In the ceiling-hung piece, for instance, Miss Stone uses two-point perspective to give two ambiguously commingled shapes, a rectangle and a triangle, a sharp illusion of volume. The perspectival projection which she has chosen implies that we are looking at the piece from a viewpoint somewhere above it, an illusion which of course is flatly denied by its placement. This kind of very literal denial, dependent as it is on the placement of the piece, makes one aware in a damaging way, of the fundamentally displayed aspect to Miss Stone’s subtle combination of an illusion of volume and a tinted transparency. I found myself unable to see this piece as anything other than an extremely competent, but ultimately curiously inconclusive display of illusionism, and to a lesser extent this also applied to the other pieces in the show.

Jane Harrison Cone