Lance Letscher

N. No.O. Gallery

There is an exaggerated permanence about most of Lance Letscher’s work. In several pieces, he coats everyday objects in thin sheets of lead, preserving them so totally that they are rendered useless and anonymous Tricycle, 1988, presents a found child’s toy that has been completely encased by Letscher with a compulsive thoroughness. The small Wheelchair, 1989, is fabricated from found scraps of pipe, sheet metal, and toy wheels. Unlike the tricycle, it could conceivably be used, although it is so tiny it would be suited only for some sort of bizarre game. Letscher carries fabrication a step further with his steel Bed, 1989. For this, he has heated, bolted, and hammered a steel sheet into a shape whose subtle irregularities appear to be the now-permanent indentations of prolonged use.

The artist titled this installation “Home,” and included, among other objects, a miniature chair in cast lead and a similar chair in wood, paired with a tiny coffin-shaped box. The artist seems determined to preserve a past that is almost unbearably painful. But as one becomes more familiar with these objects, one senses that their extreme durability is a means of addressing the fragility of the life they memorialized. Letscher handles these same themes very differently in the most evocative object in the installation. In Shirt, 1989, a tiny, white cotton shirt hangs slightly above eye level on the wall, its tail flowing onto the floor. Its pristine whiteness and insubstantiality are astonishing within the context of the installation.

The craftsmanship that goes into the works’ fabrication keeps it grounded in everyday reality. Angel, 1989, is a lithograph heavily worked over by hand, so that the final image is of a white being almost completely enveloped by heavy black wings. It is unlikely that this creature could be a guardian angel; he is more likely the angel of death. But he is also, undeniably, a little boy in his underwear, shielding his eyes against a very bright light.

Charles Dee Mitchell