Richard Rezac, Cove, 2001, wood, steel and paint, 13½ × 26½ × 17 inches. All images courtesy of the artist and Feature Inc., New York. All photos by Tom van Eynde.
Organizing principles are what dog us, and not just in art. If we are at all concerned with other people’s understanding of our work, we are confounded. Must we sacrifice some part of our vision to buy into a received language that we all share? Or is it possible that there are visual systems that lie deeper within us, deeper than culture, that can serve artists as organizing frameworks?
Richard Rezac often mentions Baroque architecture in conversation. Baroque architects interest him in their use of variation to spin out a structure from a single geometric motif. A certain curve, for example, might appear in both plan and elevation, and then again as both a detail of a balustrade and an arc on the site plan. What first seems playful in, say, Borromini, grows deep and rich in its endless self-reference. Echoes, mutations, and mirroring speak to the fractal quality of all natural systems. The suggestion of the infinite is built into this architecture, not depicted through symbolism.
Richard Rezac, Untitled (98–03),1998, cherry wood, 18½ × 27 × 30 inches.
Rezac’s starting point is the body or a part of the world that interacts with the body, like a chair, or a window, or other architectural element. He rifts on these, conflating plan and elevation and forcing our eye to choose between the flat and the three-dimensional. These aredomestic pieces, scaled to the rooms we actually live in. The homeyness of these objects allows them the possibility of an installation that is both extravagant and believable. Rezac’s pieces hang in the air, lie on the floor, or cantilever off the wall. The sculptural issue of the base becomes, for him, more a question of the essential place. He plays visual games with apparent frameworks that are subsumed into the image as we examine them. Does that structure resembling an inverted shelf dictate the hanging configuration of those nine balls—or does the necessary arrangement of the balls demand the form of the framework?
Richard Rezac, Untitled (01–03), 2001, steel, brass, nickel-plated brass, and paint, 14 × 23¼ × 19 inches.
Craftsmanship must be grounded in meaning or it is nothing but treasure. Rezac uses these perfect finishes as signs of the importance of his forms. At times his devotion to getting some little thing right seems most religious in its fervor. Note also that his colors are often strange, slightly off. That quality stops us from too easily making a specific real-world connection. Yes, we think, it’s a kind of green, but exactly what green is it, and where on earth does it come from? Rezac explains that he uses lighter color values when he wants the play of light to reveal the volumetric and darker ones when he aims to stress the silhouette.
These are some of the strangest sculptures being shown today, and yet, doubly strange, they always look right, and finished, and at home wherever you see them.
Richard Rezac, Untitled (99–07), 1999, paint, wood, steel, and wire, 9½ × 9½ × 14 inches.
Richard Rezac, Untitled (02–01), 2002, cherry, poplar, aluminum, and paint, 19 1/2 × 16½ × 8 inches.
Richard Rezac, Untitled (01–05), 2001, cast epoxy resin, wood, painted steel, and aluminum, 11 × 74¼ × 9½ inches.