New York

Ricardo Regazzoni

Richard Green Gallery

Although the one is traditionally considered a decorative element and the other its functional support, art and architecture have always had a rather more complex, and problematic, relationship. Since the early ’60s the classical divisions that once separated the two have become blurred, mainly due to the rigid formalism of Minimalist art, and to the large-scale environmental and site-specific installation pieces it has given rise to—in short, the kind of art that is frequently described as architectonic, or conforming to the rules set by architecture. A fresh and appealing commentary on this uncertain relationship was provided by the work in this show, which, appropriately enough, is by an artist who has also worked as an architect.

In the ’60s and ’70s Ricardo Regazzoni painted and designed public architecture in his homeland of Mexico. When he chose to move to New York City, nine years ago, he did so with the intention of concentrating on art. But his love of architecture remained, and it has provided him with the primary motif of his sculptural work: the column. The first thing this show revealed is how at home Regazzoni seems to be with this theme. His references to the manifold roles the column has played in the often parallel histories of architecture and art are to the point without being overly didactic. For instance, his bronze-leafed, reinforced-paperboard arches, with their characteristic spiky crowns, bring to mind the column’s traditional supportive role, its carry-the-load function in architecture. Yet other works, such as the 1986 sculptured Needle, Obelisk II, and Object I, all uprights with a decidedly totemic presence,evoke the column’s starring role in art as commemorative sculptural monument.

Esthetically, then, Regazzoni’s work addresses another provocative issue, that one of the firmest bases on which to build a harmonious relationship for art and architecture is their shared pictorial aspect. Seen in this context, the striking visual images these sculptural columns make—their stark geometric forms and elegant, polished surfaces—take on added significance as a metaphor for the best of art and the best of architecture, for the marriage of instinct and reason.

Ronny Cohen