"Ed Love: Heroes"
October 14 - December 12, 2017
521 West 21st Street
New York, NY 10011
By BARRY N. NEUMAN, NOV. 2017
Throughout his lifetime, the late sculptor Ed Love took on the arduous task of creating an iconography, specifically that of the African American people. He dedicated himself to drawing attention to how he could effectively contribute to his culture, one that's been in existence for millennia, and inventively reaffirm its vibrancy and its relevance.
At Kravets/Wehby Gallery, New York, a selection of stately, modern-day masks and totems, created by Love in the 1970’s, is currently on view. Composed of elegantly welded, chrome automobile bumpers, many of the works are representations of patriarchal, African deities and community figures, and others are reinterpretations of modernist European sculpture.
Senufo-inspired archetypes, such as, "The Bishop," "The Professor," and "The Senator," are handsomely finished; they convey both the dignity and the primal presence of their subjects. Here, Love deftly allowed for found, square apertures - manufactured screw holes - to fittingly symbolize the eyes of such personages within the art traditions of Africa. Substantial steel hooks distinguish the foreheads of these works and call to mind headdress feathers. Nevertheless, their fierceness is unmistakable.
Love's transformative use of locally available materials (e g., "Totem To Senufo") is a part of a long-standing American tradition. His hybrid approach to the handmade and the mass-manufactured (e.g., Bomar I," and "Bomar V") suggests that he'd chosen to be in community with Pablo Picasso and counterpoint Constantin Brâncuși and Umberto Boccioni.
"Faena 2 - The Killing Of Clifford Glover" resembles a strutting male figure and is a counterpart to Alberto Giacometti's walking-man sculpture. The abbreviated plinth suggests both a front foot and the sidewalk; it's a powerfully evocative, economical feature, as the figure has a commanding presence. The uppermost section is composed of welded chrome automobile bumper material; from the front, it can be perceived as a stand-alone, horned, flying creature with wings, mounted on a diagonal beam of oxidized steel, which is reminiscent of the work of Richard Serra. In profile, it looks like a shaman’s head, leaving behind a trail of moving air, and a pair of arms, deployed in a macho-like manner.
At times, one can't help but think of the work of one of Love's friends, fellow sculptor John Chamberlain. However, Love's works possess an animism that is distinctly more primeval than that of Chamberlain's works.
Overall, 2017 has been an excellent year for seeing remarkable works by an outstanding generation of African American artists. A work of sculpture by another friend of Love, Elizabeth Catlett, and two paintings by fellow Washington, D.C., artist, Alma Thomas, were the highlights of the recent group exhibition, "We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965 – 85," at the Brooklyn Museum. A noteworthy solo exhibition of works by Jeff Donaldson was on view at Kravets/Wehby Gallery not long ago. A chance to become better acquainted with Love's sculpture couldn't be more timely. WM
Barry N. Neuman was previously the New York editor of the online edition and an associate editor of the hard copy edition of “Boiler,” Milan. Works of his published in “Boiler” include interviews with Matthew Antezzo, Carles Congost, Christian Flamm, Graham Little, Victor Rodriguez, Lisa Ruyter, and Gordon Terry. He has, as well, guest-curated group exhibitions at Team Gallery, New York, and La Panadería, Mexico City. Mr. Neuman received a M. A. in visual arts administration from New York University and a B. A. in biological sciences from the State University Of New York At Binghamton.
Photograph by Lance Evans
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