san-francisco

Ian McDonald

The eleven sculptures that constituted Ian McDonald’s recent exhibition at Rena Bransten Gallery were bunched together on a single white platform. The mode of display seemed as important as the objects themselves—smooth, stonelike ceramic sculptures, at times encrusted with glittering purple crystals—in its address of a classic modernist trope. The works were also set on artist-designed powder-coated steel tables and in one case enshrined in a large vitrine, thereby blurring distinctions between art, décor, and institutional display. The totality of the installation evoked a combination of midcentury furniture, Minimalist sculpture, stylish bric-a-brac, and tailored munitions (some of the sculptures have distinctly bomblike shapes).

The ambiguous relationship of form and function has been worked through innumerable times before, but McDonald’s juxtaposition of forbidding power

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