New York

Mike Bakaty

Paley and Lowe Gallery

Some half a dozen new works by the sculptor Mike Bakaty were on view at the Paley and Lowe Gallery during late September and early October, six unique works and two works in multiple editions. All are made of clear fiberglass, in the following way: a piece of canvaslike cloth is drenched in a resin and shaped in the desired fashion, and then the resin acts chemically to change the entirety into a modeled piece of solid fiberglass. There may be an analogy with painting—when you put pigment on a canvas it changes into a picture—but the sense of fix and arrest here is more to the point. And because the resin is clear and drips before it quite hardens, the effect is suggestive of arrest by nature, as when ice and icicles form on telegraph wires or hanging wet wash.

Bakaty often takes the droopy, wet hang of the soaked material and changes its position, once it hardens, so that what once pulled down weightily now bulges out or upward instead. Thus, seven long narrow hammocklike hangings are joined together against the wall in a lateral (Morris Louis-like) cascade, while another piece hangs on guy ropes from high up on the wall down to a point on the floor well into the space of the room in an array, in a single vertical plane, of five rounded balloonlike shapes. Among the pieces which still hang down as gravitationally as they did in their molten state, there is a large drapelike piece that hangs stalactitically on a single guy rope from the ceiling. Another is composed of two long strips each of which hangs from a tentlike system of guys, one end higher than the other and one right over the other, dipping down at one end; at the low end each bends (the bottom one more acutely) before trailing off toward the floor.

Three big X-shapes, one behind the other, each suspended higher than the one in front of it, comprise another large work. The “Greekcross” shapes have five compartments which are closed regular bubbles, pillowlike.

Over all these things, and through them, the sunlight plays. As far as I can tell that’s about the whole story. The works sometimes suggest the tradition of artists’ drapery studies, and in this they may relate to such sculpture as Robert Rohm’s Untitled—March 8, ’70 in the Whitney Annual. But since the conception, the materials, the execution, and even the viewing of these objects all look to me to be equally facile, I can’t think of any reason why I was wrong to be bored.

Joseph Masheck