New York

Ernest Trova

Pace | 508 W 25th Street

Ernest Trova shows that Constructivism, too, is entitled to a Gothic phase. His sculptures manage to convey with a Constructivist vocabulary of straight lines and planes something of the melancholy, brooding quality of Northern European art styles in decline. The machined surfaces of his pieces evoke the Constructivist ideal of the work of art as model of abstract thought. But his large and bristling floor pieces, more complicated and redundant than the work of an artist like Caro, offer a proliferation of sharp planes that recalls the spikey complexity of Gothic architecture in form as well as mood. They are deft and well-proportioned examples of a familiar sculptural style, but compared even to his smaller “figure” pieces, they seem overly mannered.

The “Profile Canto” series contains vestiges of the “Falling Man” series—that famous profile sometimes appearing in the contour of a flat steel element. Often difficult to notice at first, this reference to Trova’s symbolic human form implies that the formal dynamics of his purely abstract elements are meant to symbolize the internal dynamics of a human organism. Though the Constructivists had a horror of diluting the abstract power of line and color with a representational load of any sort, Trova’s discreet inclusion of a head, torso or leg in profile recalls the Constructivist intention, as Naum Gabo put it, of making space “a reality of the same sensuous value as velocity or tranquility.”

Many other sculptors can make one more acutely aware of the “void” between the solid elements as a positive formal element in their work. However, Trova’s “Profile Canto” series is a reminder that the perception of space itself is more an aspect of the viewer’s internal neurologic mechanism than of “reality” outside.

Ross Skoggard