Didier Vermeiren

Donald Young Gallery

Didier Vermeiren’s charged classicism juggles pristine resolution and tense, probing expectancy. Essays in implication, the seven tantalizing sculptures displayed here reveal Vermeiren’s concerns with the intricacies and ambiguities of space and motion.

The earliest piece exhibited, Une plaque de Pierre 80 x 80 x 20 cm sur un bloc de polyurethane 80 x 80 x 20 cm (A stone plaque 80 x 80 x 20 cm on a polyurethane block 80 x 80 x 20 cm, 1985) inaugurates a kind of offbeat physics test. Comprised of a block of stone atop an identically proportioned block of polyurethane foam, the piece literally moves, albeit extremely slowly, as the polyurethane is gradually pancaked. Motion and its relation to the properties of an object are also crucial elements in five untitled sculptures that take as their starting point a dollylike cart. The presentation, contour, demeanor, and wheels of these objects make them truly perfect vehicles. Each dolly supports a cube of space encased in either crisp metallic post-and-lintel constructions or seemingly arbitrary walls of plaster. As the wheels of these carts are locked, the sculptures can only move in controlled and limited straight lines. It is within these parameters that these works must be described and known.

One work from 1989 is completely reversible, with a set of wheels set on top, while another is presented with its base still encased within a kind of packing crate. Two sculptures with their incompletely plastered and painted walls extend Vermeiren’s persistent underlying inquiry into the ironies informing art production and display.

Untitled, 1990, a column that also employs movement as a major component, is divided in two halfway up its 74-inch shaft in order to accommodate a small circle of ball bearings in a metal track. The column can be rotated or spun about, and its strict verticality amended. There is something sobering in the interventions to which Vermeiren subjects his vehicles. The careful accretion of detail leads to extensions of objecthood that raise complex doubts; his recent sculptures reiterate how truly complex a classicism can be.

James Yood