Wendell Gladstone

Roberts Projects

Following three New York solo shows, Los Angeles–based artist Wendell Gladstone made his belated hometown debut with four sculptural tableaux (all works 2002). Consisting of stylized, munchkin-size figures standing atop mounds that suggest islands or coastal rocks, Gladstone’s dioramas propose an aesthetic kinship among classical statuary, kitsch decorator objects, and animated adventures. Functioning like the stations of the cross—or the levels of a video game—his fragments, read in sequence, tell a tale.

In the first “scene,” a marble-white boy in yellow rubber boots and a striped fisherman’s sweater stands at the summit of a domed rock, solemnly clutching his catch, a blush-pink octopus. At the next stop, the boy has fallen, and three dogs with jewels around their necks sniff at his feet, having already claimed his trophy. In “level” three, the dogs celebrate with a bloody severed

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