New York

Jiři Georg Dokoupil

Sonnabend Gallery

While I was looking at Jiři Georg Dokoupil’s new sculptures and paintings, Robert Smithson’s 1966 drawing A Heap of Language came involuntarily to mind, with its pyramid of words, heaped up like objects, a chain of potentially cabalistic incantations but drained of power in their translation to a visual medium, as something to be seen and not heard, transformed into empty ciphers bankrupt of meaning. Dokoupil’s The Five, 1986, has come a long way from Charles Demuth’s I Saw the Figure Five in Gold, 1928, with its allusion to poetry, or the number “5” as Jasper Johns painted it, with all the pseudopassion he could muster, yet still concerned to give the impression of expressing rather than recording the number. In Dokoupil, the yellow “5”—with a hand-stenciled look a la Warhol and mounted on the grainy lines of a black cross against a garish red field—seems farcical and melodramatic, a

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