José Pedro Croft

Fúcares Madrid

One of José Pedro Croft’s main avenues of inquiry is the delimitation of what is external and internal to each form. This question is developed both in the internal structure of each piece and in its articulation within the surrounding space. In his more recent works the dominant form has become the box, more specifically the box-arch, taking over from the box-tombs and box-houses. The horizon of the artist’s formal references stretches from the field of architecture into the field of everyday objects in which the arch joins with the table or the bowl.

This exhibition illustrated a particularly dynamic moment in this sculptor’s activity. The entrance hall contained a pile of differently shaped bowls unstably set on a base that gave the piece the outline of a small, leaning column. With these pieces, Croft induced a short-circuit between monumental quotation and domestic utensil while raising the question of balance. This is a constant in his work, from his unstable columns of the mid ’80s, formed from an infinitude of small fragments or dug out right at the moment of imminent collapse, to the spheres in enigmatic suspension or immobility inside boxes (which apparently defy the laws of gravity) that he created at the beginning of the ’90s.

The piece in the next room—a semiopen box in which a solid parallelepiped rises up on one of the sides—established a certain ambiguity between the geometrical purity of the forms of abstract sculpture and the hybrid nature of architectonic references. In the main room of the gallery stood the two most important pieces in the exhibition. A cylinder made of chicken wire, clumsily covered in plaster, leant against the wall on a chair with only two of its legs on the ground. In using the chair, Croft incorporated, without reconstructive mediations, solutions that derive directly from the work in the studio itself. The other piece made of the leaning trunk of a cone (also in plaster) was placed under two articulated plywood slabs that touched it in certain places and, due to the way in which the piece was installed, initially hid it from the viewer.

With maximum economy of form and process, Croft creates a situation at the limit of stability; the sensation that were it to go any further the piece would not stand up, but any less on the edge and it would lack the intended dynamism. The second determining characteristic in the author’s work is the dynamization of the spatial relationships within each work and between each work, and the movement of the viewer’s body and gaze. This is precisely the effect of simply placing in one of the corners of the room, and half-way up the wall, a bowl molded out of synthetic resin, which, when we come close to it, we realize has no bottom. Without yielding to the artifices of staging or spectacle, Croft brings life, instability, and dynamism to a situation that would otherwise be stable and dead.

Alexandre Melo

Translated from the Portuguese by David Prescott.