New York

Timothy Woodman

Zabriskie Gallery

Timothy Woodman’s painted aluminum wall reliefs offer a more diffuse, less focused figure-scape than Katz’s. His characters are literally “little people,” an anthology of Lilliputian types engaged in a human comedy of activity, from the mundane (sharpening a knife) to the fantastic (wrestling a demon). Sometimes Woodman’s small folk are isolated as single figures; in other works, groups arestrung together in a linked chain of human activity, as in a take-off on Edward Hick’s Peaceable Kingdom which adds musicians and a ballerina to the already crowded scene of the original 19th-century work, and in Carnival, 1984, in which a whole circus troupe sprawls across the wall in a writhing worm of playful movement.

With their smoothed-out facial features, blocky builds, and mat colors, Woodman’s figures are anonymous toilers, slices of life on a measured scale. The cutout technique has the effect of giving a dramatic outline to their anecdotal tales, as Woodman plays with perspective, flattened three-dimensionality, and irregular cropping. Two pieces display a larger, more condensed intention. In Collision, 1984, a ship’s bow is canted sideways and upwards as it saws a rowboat in half, throwing two figures to either side as the bow points straight out at the viewer. Rescue, 1984–85, is an inverted version of Collision in which two policemen on the roof of a building hold on to a man who has flung himself off. Both sculptures are significantly larger than the others, in both the shapes play with the tension of holding to the wall while charging off it, and both find suitably life-and-death narrative content for their heightened formal action. In these pieces Woodman’s clever craftsmanship and microscopic vision cohere into works of passion and force, and consequently produce something more than curiosities: a vividly dramatized idea.

John Howell