Installation view of “Arlene Shechet: That Time,” 2012.

Arlene Shechet


Anderson Gallery

Droll and crudely elegant, the nine clay sculptures in “Arlene Shechet: That Time” demonstrate the ubiquity of narrative. The works emerge from instinctual manipulations of clay that occur slowly in the studio through attentive play with gravity, juxtapositions of quirky shapes, and flirtations with contradiction and failure. Their stories reside in iconic abstract forms, solitary caricatures that sustain a double identity. While signifying a range of human characteristics, they retain the essence of their primal origins in dollops of thick mud or lumps and coils of clay. Regarding clay as a three-dimensional drawing material, Shechet pays attention to the medium’s living and mutable nature. The result is that the makeshift becomes a desirable (and permanent) presence, and the unrefined is appreciated as sophisticated. For Shechet, tragedy—in which artist and clay are “characters” susceptible to conflict and/or downfall through their protracted encounter in the studio—befits comedy. These tragicomic narratives involve triumph over adversity (clay’s temperamental nature), as well as a proclivity for surprising and humorous forms. Shechet’s stories are unresolved and never quite defined. …see the entire review in the print version of June’s Sculpture magazine.