New York

Charles Ginnever, Peter Forakis, Tom Doyle and Mark Di Suvero

Sculpture Now

Upstairs at Sculpture Now are early works; downstairs are recent works by four sculptors who have moved toward the minimal. With the exception of Mark Di Suvero’s Thataway, each piece is direct and forceful, eliminating the thrills of the ’60s for the spareness of the ’70s.

All are large pieces, and again, excepting Di Suvero, are gestural in that they are directional, shooting off invisible planes into extended space. Three Steel Plates by Charles Ginnever pursues a line of investigation begun with his Zeus installation in the same space in 1975. It fills the space with only inches to spare; ducking under and through the piece is the only way to approach it. Though not a dense piece, it is threatening in such a tight enclosure. The three steel plates (5 by 66 feet) hang by cable from the ceiling, and are linked tightly together. Zigzagging across one end of the room, wedging into the corner, raising off the ground, something planar is always happening in the work. As usual with Ginnever’s pieces, there is a great deal of movement, affording new angles and juxtapositions with each shift in viewpoint.

There are superficial similarities in Peter Forakis’ Sokar, also a three-plane steel piece. Forakis crosses the metal into an elongated T-shape with an X forming the cross-bar. Sokar also moves well, shifting from the broad horizontal to a slim side view, the cross pieces rising up dramatically to rest on sharp points. But Forakis’ piece is greatly self-contained, concerned more with its form and its own interior structure. While Ginnever reaches out into space, always aware of slashing through, Forakis handles the planes of his steel composition as a central image.

In the spotlighted gallery the highlighted edges of each plane become important, contrasting strongly with the hard flat expanse of the steel. The tightness of the indoor space may magnify the impact of the edge; nevertheless, it echoes the austere strength of the image.

The rough wood boards of Tom Doyle’s Tullahoma slant down a wide expanse, forming a ramp over a beam construction. Kitelike in shape and punctuated with open spaces between the planks, the piece combines the solid with the linear. The planks laid on top to form the ramp cascade down, angle, buckle on top of each other. Gently sliding into reverse at the bottom of their descent, they pull a surprise about-face, pointing upward as smoothly as they just descended.

Again, a strong element of direction comes into play—pointing, reversing. On the surface light reflects off the broad expanse while underneath shadowed beams hide the spine of the work, offering another contrast between its two parts. Doyle’s piece also works well on a massive scale in the confined space.

Totally different in relation to its space, Di Suvero’s piece walks on legs, steel struts, with none of the planar construction of the others. Not vastly different from his earlier work, Thataway repeats a massive scale, playing familiar balancing games. Here there are two dangling parts, a huge steel ball and a squiggly shiny steel tube. As it stands, the tube twirls around, the ball hangs dangerously and heavily close to the ground. The bright orange girders planted in between act as hangers for these elements, with only a static presence.

Di Suvero’s piece embodies none of the hard choices inherent in its minimal neighbors, paring down to essentials, aiming at clear concerns. Choosing through intuition, speaking through brusqueness, Thataway claims its ground and holds the space through stubbornness. The other three claim the space through manipulation, changing and filling it with a common slashing directness.

Deborah Perlberg