New York

Lika Mutal

Truly archetypal forms are rarely seen in today’s art, in which the trite is too often mistaken for the transcendent. However, Lika Mutal’s show of recent stone sculptures demonstrated that these forms can and do exist today.

Mutal, who began making abstract sculpture in the early 1970s, soon after moving to Peru, is at home with the special ways of archetypal forms. She seems to know instinctively that they can neither be forced nor wished into being. They either are or are not, and only inspiration can bring them into existence. For Mutal, stone is a substance whose layers are suffused with meaning and carry in themselves the elemental mysteries of the universe. Stone is awash with fundamental associations; from being the source of the primary building blocks of civilization, the architecture of our world, to symbolizing the relationship of man and nature. Stone, for this artist also, is inextricably interrelated with space and structure. Mutal aims to open the stone and demonstrate the role it plays in the manifold cycle of life. Themes of unity, of oneness and wholeness, are of keen interest to her. These themes are given strikingly concrete and clear expression in the ring motif so recurrent in her work. Aura, 1984–86, a sculpture made of travertine marble, is representative of her methods and means. With its symmetrical ring structure at once open and closed, the form is an emblem of the organic harmony of the continual flow of time, as well as a fascinating example of the sophisticated language of nongimmicky simplicity that has become this artist’s trademark.

Ronny Cohen