New York

Arthur Weyhe

55 Mercer Gallery

Combining monumental scale with an air of intimacy, Arthur Weyhe has created public sculpture with a private expression. The raw poles of his large construction invite all the familiar comparisons with totems and primitive structures. As a sample of the best of this work, it doesn’t deny such implications but transcends them by focusing on a precise and satisfying arrangement of elements.

This large untitled piece is one of few works that are as striking indoors as outdoors. Structural triads support an open network of “ceiling” poles, strung along the top of each supporting unit. It is an extremely basic method of support and a not unfamiliar one—Weyhe somehow inserts freshness into the theme. With a skillful eye he contrasts wide open expanses of space with a visual layering of the supports. Though tightly bolted together, the piece imparts a sense of immediacy through the simplicity of its construction.

Weyhe’s work invites participation; his outdoor pieces are routinely covered with children playing, and people resting on cross pieces. The lack of a stiff formalism invites such casualness; the strong personal presence of the piece maintains its integrity. Despite the primitive connotations of his material, an urban sophistication pervades Weyhe’s work. Whereas steel relates directly to man’s domination over the landscape, and refers directly to kinships with 20th-century construction, these rough wooden poles are capable of either interpretation; they are simultaneously crude and cosmopolitan.

Deborah Perlberg