New York

Will Insley

Fischbach Gallery

Not paintings, not drawings, Will Insley's objects lay claim to some uncharted area in the vicinity of excavated architectural blueprints and inert flattened sculpture. He is showing work which is nearly identical to that seen in 1968 at the Whitney Annual. He presents series of objects which, sure enough, hang on the wall but do so in a rather noblesse oblige fashion. Their staid, purposeful, dark and light grays signal something above painting or sculpture, above mere art.

Each wall-mounted, masonite object is gridded, and each of his series plays out a transformation by fooling around with a divided internal grid which successively distorts the literal shape of the objects. The further along each series, the more distorted the object’s shape becomes. By proposing an “abstracted space” imposed on a two-dimensional field—which can only suggest a Cubist grid—I am struck by a curiously simplistic attitude which does not seem fundamental to his inquiry. It’s either too cryptic or too abstract for me. I am interested in buildings, but I’m not sure Insley is; his “abstract architecture” is more like engineering than designing.

I read the extended article on Insley made available at the gallery. As viewers, we are supposed to be archeologists who discover wall fragments while slipping through space; the wall fragments are from circa 1976. OK, but what am I supposed to be doing right here, in 1976? Playing games? Playing Sherlock Holmes? Delighted by obscurity, meta-architecture, city planning, philosophy of planning? Engrossed in grid/brick/floor plan cum painting/sculpture/architecture, in a science-fiction archeological context? Wondering why two dimensions are more abstract than three, and why gray and white must function as a “given” to seriousness?

Jeff Perrone