New York

Donald Lipski

Germans-van Eck Gallery

A striking feature of Donald Lipski’s exhibitions is the sheer abundance of work shown. Here, in the front room, there were 13 wall pieces and 5 floor pieces. In the back room, 33 smaller pieces were arranged on shelves. In a private office behind this room hundreds of tiny Lipski pieces covered three walls. Actually, the whole gallery was an installation, the works organized like pebbles sifted by the waves.

This work, made by altering and combining found objects or parts of them, has an obvious surrealist aspect. In some cases Lipski combines objects opposed in some way, as in the tactile opposition in one work between a sickle and the soft plastic in which it is wrapped, or a large crosscut saw and the rubber hosing wrapped around its blade in another. In other pieces he focuses on interpenetrating the concept with the presence of an object, by reusing books, for example, in ways that have nothing to do with reading. In still other works there are clear references to warfare and its diminished threat in our minds as we grow accustomed to its presence or imminence: a little Joseph Cornell-like box is filled with “bomblets,” a fire ax has a machine gun belt wrapped around it, and so on. Many of these pieces invite semiliterary readings, while others confidently occupy the noncategory of the unaccountable object.

Although suggestions of somewhat unfocused social comment clung to Lipski’s use of industrial objects and weaponry, these things were presented almost as if part of nature, simply there, like the forks, buckets, tools, and books that were all about. Indeed, it looked as if a kind of natural force had been at work in these rooms, a relentless and arbitrary drive to gather, separate, and recombine. The work seemed to express the pure arbitrariness of life, nature, or the world, along with the intensity of energy and the inexorability of its expenditure.

Thomas McEvilley