New York

Donald Lipski

Paul Kasmin, Lennon, Weinberg, Inc.

In this installment of his project called Gathering Dust, 1988, Donald Lipski pinned tiny odds and ends to the gallery walls in loose configurations. From a distance, skewered curiosities—including a four-leaf clover fashioned from rubber bands, a bottle cap covered in wax, and a book of matches folded in a stepped pattern—look like fishing flies or insect specimens. Lipski crafts these items in idle moments from objects he comes across in the course of his daily rounds. The artist seems drawn to the mundane and insignificant, to the kind of objects that get shuffled to the back of desk drawers or settle behind furniture.

Lipski stores his miniature creations in cigar boxes and personally installs them in each new situation. Originally ordered according to material, type, color, or shape, the arrangements are now purely intuitive, and the lack of purposive order highlights the sheer inventive variety of the objects.

Lipski’s favored methods of altering items—folding, weaving, twisting, filling, and wrapping—also shape the larger exhibited works. Java Man, 1990, consists of a dilapidated bass-viol cover stretched over an irregular wedge of plate glass. In Radio Duomo, 1990, an enormous aluminum ring hangs from a steel hook wrapped in cloth; a similarly swaddled hammer looped through the hook invites the viewer to strike the ring, producing the sound of a bell (the work’s title refers to the bells of the Duomo in Milan).

At Lennon, Weinberg, Lipski exhibited a series entitled “Waterlilies,” 1990, in which clusters of organic objects such as green apples, eggs, or roses float in special preservative fluids. The containers look like oversized test tubes bent into arcs, crosses, and boomerang shapes and fastened with aggressive heavy-duty hardware. The works’ slightly saccharine decorative appeal, recalling ’70s-style Lucite spice racks and cork-topped pasta jars, is mitigated by their preposterous quality and imposing scale. Lipski’s taste for simple geometries lends the work visual clarity, while weird visual effects such as a warped view of a single-file arrangement of brown eggs seen through the curved glass cylinder in which they are displayed, keep things interesting.

The artist has spoken of his work as a task of fitting and joining, of “reassembling the world”; but there is also something a little claustrophobic about Lipski’s airless, hermetically sealed tubes—something mildly sinister in the implication of forced containment, of wrapping, binding, and smothering.

Lois E. Nesbitt