Lee Newton

ICA - Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston

An exhibition long overdue in Boston, Six Sculptors reflected various modes of sculpture-making, running the gamut of current idioms from free-standing objects and wall reliefs to architectonic constructions and ephemeral installations.

In a totally different realm of sculptural conception, LEE NEWTON defines her own arena by laying out a horizontal and a vertical working space. As with her earlier works one feels compelled to read this arrangement for its linear narrative content since her multipartite ensembles have a strong theatrical ambience—stage, backdrop, props, etc. This particular untitled wall and floor composition is meant to convey a celestial scenario. Undoubtedly, her roughly worked surfaces, her deep colors and the preference here for circular forms have some relation to a heavenly realm. But her primary props—an under-inflated beachball and a dusty tennis ball—never become revolving orbs or planetary bodies. In fact, these never even impress us with their common characteristics of spherical roundness. Instead they remain the gilded and Day-glo-green rubber balls that they are, somewhat forlornly left on the shiny floor. Distortions, metaphoric forms and even personalized graphic gestures might all be used to evoke specific places or times, perhaps even imparting an otherworldly aura to mundane objects and spaces. Unfortunately, the constituent elements in Newton's tableau never achieve such transformations. Instead each fraction distracts from the whole, each move made unnecessarily compromises the final result as the tableau never shifts from our world to hers.

Ronald J. Onorato