Richard Rezac

Giorgio Vasari’s tale about how Paolo Uccello would sit at his desk late into the night, drawing obsessively, refusing his wife’s entreaties to come to bed, muttering, “What a sweet mistress is this perspective,” vividly describes the fascination that geometry holds for some artists. It can become something of a fixation, this immersion in a parallel universe of perfect order, the ceaseless tweaking and elaboration of the architectonics of form, the testing of line in pursuit of visual balance that rapidly becomes a compulsion. In his modestly scaled sculptures and drawings, Richard Rezac scrupulously pursues such states of being, discovering secret harmonies, the tender poetics that can be drawn out of the shapes that surround us, the visual subtleties embedded in the ordinary.

Recently, Rezac has been finding raw material in vernacular architecture, in the design of commercial fixtures and moldings, in decorative wall trim, banister rails, and shelving. Rezac takes these habitually overlooked background elements and subjects them to a process of investigation and embellishment, of parsing and reconsideration, that leaves his final work only vestigially connected to its source. Whether Untitled (05 – 05), 2005, for example, is actually derived from egg-and-dart molding or a wallpaper pattern is ultimately less critical than Rezac’s permutations of and extrapolations from it, meandering intersecting rows of diamond shapes that seem to be following a loose, unwritten set of rules.

Rezac’s approach is usually only obliquely reductivist; he doesn’t condense existing patterns to some iconic essence, but rather riffs on internal rhythms, pushing the mundane toward the Baroque. Lancaster (04 – 03), 2004, is another example, a conjunction of two unassuming painted wooden rails that closer inspection reveals to be a maelstrom of elements in a kind of resonant suspension, at rest yet pulsing with formal intricacies. The interdependence of the rails, the blue and light orange paint, and the static nature of the entire assemblage brings the viewer to the position where geometry and its somewhat coarsened translations into functionality part company.

Untitled (05 – 07), 2005, hangs seven feet from the floor, like a cast bronze lighting fixture. As with all of Rezac’s recent sculptures, it is accompanied by a tight pencil drawing on graph paper that functions as a schematic plan for the working out of its crystalline structure. Planes of metal recede where one might expect them to protrude, or veer right when one anticipates the opposite. In Glisan, 2006, a creamy yellow stepped wood construction is positioned atop a severe welded aluminum base, suggesting an uneasy commingling of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe.

This is all rather exquisite but not without a degree of escapism. As in Uccello’s project, there is something inevitable and potentially distracting about Rezac’s inquiry, an intense solipsism that privileges that which is positioned at the point of a sharpened pencil and the edge of a T-square. His project’s taut focus superbly plumbs our interest in order and pattern, and leads us in a merry chase through a few of their infinite permutations.

James Yood