New York


Achim Moeller Fine Art

This retrospective, covering the years from 1963 to 1989, provided a long overdue look at the work of a leading international sculptor. Liuba was born in Bulgaria and studied with Germaine Richier in Switzerland in the mid ’40s. Since the late ’50s, she has lived in Paris and São Paulo. Judging by the sculptures and drawings that were displayed here, she is an artist who exhibits a peerless understanding of the expressive dynamics of form. There is something magical about her ability to imbue form with vital meaning. Much the same can be said of her talent for using abstraction as a means to capture life’s essential qualities.

In L’Envol (The flight) and Spiked Animal, both 1963, the quickening sensation of movement is evoked by the swelling protruberances making up the bodies or torsos of these figures, and by the powerful modeling of their turning and twisting structures. Movement as flight is an idea treated in a group of sculptures inspired by the recurring subject of birds. From Oiseau de nuit (Night bird, 1965) to Bird II, 1981, the physical and spiritual energies peculiar to birds––the thurst, torsion, and feeling of freedom they can symbolize––are conveyed in inspired and adroit fashion. In Winged Animal, 1971, and Winged Form (Animal), 1989, the movement that pulses through each of these forms has a weight and gravity announcing a connection to the earth. In Anthropomorphic Form, 1986, Liuba shows an interest in still another type of movement. Here, the action of a person running is concreted by an abstract configuration of a young woman with long hair and limbs. The way she appears flung into the surrounding air becomes a metaphor of the sheer joy of existence. In Plant Form, 1981, growth is suggested by the sophisticated asymmetry of the gestural upright form, befitting the unceasing outward movement impelled by nature.

Liuba’s fascination with the multiple structures the form of the upright can take is indicated in such works as Upright Sculpture, 1977, and Upright Movement, 1985. The degree to which idea and feeling are resolved is evident in Animal-Stabile in Movement, 1989. In the latter, Liuba shows an animal that appears to be watching for prey. This powerful archetypal form seems to sit gracefully balanced on its haunches, ready to spring forth and unleash the powerful forces stored in the monumental curves of its massive volumetric construction.

Ronny Cohen