New York

Wendy Knox-Leet

P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center

Wendy Knox-Leet is a young Canadian artist who has been living and working in New York for the last year. Her recent sculptures are an engaging expression of the on-the-wall fare currently popular in New York. Additive in structure, the sculptures consist of various layers of wire mesh and other materials—aluminum, coal, acrylic, enamel, gels, aquarium sand and glitter among them. They vary a great deal in size and shape, materials, textures and colors. What the works share, however, is an attitude of “aggressive organicity,” the result of making both formal elements (flat and folded planes, straight and angled edges, primary and local colors, matte and reflective surfaces) and conceptual elements (art and industry, painting and sculptures, the decorative and structural, the refined and raw) all work together by working them against one another. And, in these works, particularly the vertical and body-scaled examples made of wire mesh, coal, acrylic, enamel and aluminum, a strong object presence is turned into a figural presence because structure and surface can be read as bones and flesh. Such references to the body recall Knox-Leet’s background in performance art and her earlier free-standing sculpture.

Of course, adding to the attitude of aggressive organicity is the illusion of movement created by both the vertically and horizontally disposed pieces. They seem not only to propel themselves into the audience’s space but also to sweep along the wall in various ascending directions. An intense quality of “presence” is also encouraged by the element of surprise built into each example, resulting from the combinations of elements and articulation of surfaces and scales—both internal and external. This surprise is even more a surprise in the context of a one-person show.

Ronny H. Cohen