San Francisco

David Kezur

Haines Gallery

From Bruce Conner and Edward and Nancy Kienholz to Mike Kelley to Bay Area newcomers like Nayland Blake and René de Guzman, found-object (and purchased-object) sculpture has such a rich history in California that I am continually surprised that it has not yet played itself out. It is as if the hard detritus of contemporary life were a compost that—mixed with artistic intelligence—is perennially capable of sprouting new forms.

David Kezur, who now lives in New York, began making poetic structures of salvaged junk while he was living on the West Coast. Many of the components of his works suggest body parts—nipplelike earplugs, earmuffs, turned-wood caps of newel posts whose shapes tempt the hand—and the untitled pieces in his latest solo show, though simple in form, elicit complex, visceral effects. His more elaborate pieces bring to mind the sculpture of Donald Lipski in their use of various small components.

There is a morbid air about some of Kezur’s new work. In one wall piece, a baggy membrane of black rubber dotted with plastic earplugs suggests an artificial udder. In another piece, a tongue of plaster that suggests a Brancusi form passes snugly through what looks like a padded plastic knee brace but is in fact a canine life-jacket. One of the most arresting constructions in the show has only two parts: a pair of threadbare earmuffs and a small sheet of glass. One ear pad is pressed tight to the wall behind the glass so that the other arcs outward, offering itself like the receiving end of some obsolete listening device.

Kezur’s sculptures are convincing partly because he doesn’t seem to come even close to repeating himself. He appears to find endless constructive ideas within the objects he collects. Perhaps it is only that the components he employs are timeworn, but he seems to have the knack of making things that look like Surrealist relics from between the wars. The most satisfying example is a sort of mechanical blossom or seedpod, consisting of a perforated metal cone on a stand with a sheet-metal bonnet attached. Kezur has stuffed the open end of the cone with seven small, ribbed spheres. Though they look as if they might be architectural ornaments, nested together, the balls suggest fruits of nature’s prolixity rather than mass-produced objects.

Kenneth Baker