new-york

Brian Tolle

Basilico Fine Arts

In Brian Tolle’s exhibition “Common Consent,” the gallery was occupied by an encampment of six simulated-stone structures configured to resemble fragments of rocky walls and enclosures, all built to human scale and augmented with light projections. The overwhelming physical presence of the works conveys exactly the sort of theatricality Michael Fried objected to in his criticism of “literalist” art’s control and consumption of space meant for the viewer. Literal as the sculptures appear to be, their suggestions of function are ambiguous; we’re meant to open the wooden picket gate of Safe (all works 1998) and step inside, but the walls create a space as much holding pen as haven.

There's yet another sort of theatricality built into Tolle’s structures, though, that has to do with their obvious artificiality. Fried attributed the impact of Minimalism as much to its scale as to its look of “

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