New York

Peter Reginato

Peter Reginato’s welded steel sculptures are fine examples of a consistent sculptural tradition, investigating concerns that carry through from Picasso, Gonzales and Smith. Although Reginato’s work over the past several years has gone from more contemporary to less contemporary to more traditional—a chronological step backward—these pieces are still well “put together.”

There are four large sculptures—three vertical structures and one horizontal piece. Reginato’s cut-out shapes are combinations of flat-against-curve-against-cylindrical forms. He uses both flat solid forms and flat open-shaped spaces. Each sculpture simultaneously harmonizes with and cuts into the space it occupies. The sculptures are slightly larger than human scale. The embodied gesture of cutting into space is the physical realization of a drawn line. For Reginato, the drawn line and the three-dimensional form are interfaced components of the total structure. Well thought out and executed, the pieces are locked into a time period of yesteryear which reflects, with all due respect, the wholesomeness of dated convention. One experiences Reginato’s sculptures with a sense of satisfaction but without the titillation or benefit of contemporary artistic developments.

Odalisque, 1976, is perhaps the “odd” piece in the show—and a beauty. I’m not sure if the title is derived from Ingres, but the seductive oval-circular form cannot be ignored. This sculpture also recalls the celebrated Vitruvian figure—a well-proportioned man whose extended arms and legs fit exactly into a circle within a square. The piece’s oval horizontality occupies a squared-off space.

Odalisque is also highly reminiscent of the steel drums from the Caribbean, specifically Trinidad, where they were made from discarded oil drums left on American Air Force bases during World War II. Not only is there a physical resemblance to Odalisque (Reginato’s shapes reflect some ethnic-oriented influences) but it brings to mind the relationship of the African masks to Picasso’s work.

The contrast between the bulkweight of the steel sculptures and the homemade, hand-cut, delicate quality of the forms is sensitively and intuitively balanced. Reginato’s surface is slightly rusted welded Mild steel, hand-ground, polyurethaned and finally butchers-waxed. The combination of the surface textures emits a golden hue—that of dulled bronze, perhaps, but not of welded steel.

Sharon Gold