Santa Monica, California
While the works in Guy Dill’s recent exhibition extend his familiar explorations of non-objective sculptural form, they intriguingly hint of the similes that exist between non-objective, abstract, and representational modes of art. Dill showed seven non-objective bronzes alongside nearly a dozen charcoal figure drawings of female nudes, to the astonishment of those who assume categories of artistic production to be fixed rather than fluid entities.
The most commanding works remain the sculptures, the majority of which are finished with a near black patina that underscores their focus on form. Reconsidering conceptual ideals such as circles, ellipses, and squares, which have fascinated humanity for centuries, Dill’s new works manifest an impressive command of visual history, conversing with ideas spanning from the Renaissance through the present. With postmodern panache, his ironically hand-welded sculptures comment not only on the industrial standardization of form—of significance in different ways to both Constructivists and Minimalists—but also hint at the widely unacknowledged link between the modern love affair with perfected industrial form and the ancient fascination with perfected formal ideals.
While many critics have commented on Dill’s affinities to Constructivism, this body of work explores sculptural terrain that transverses time and space, synthesizing at the minimum pre-Constructivist, Constructivist, and Minimalist concerns. Dill’s reworking of Brancusi’s themes extends the early 20th-century sculptor’s claim that his works were not abstract but rather captured the essence of things. Yet while rethinking Brancusi, Dill fabricates pieces whose non-objective syntax simultaneously uses and deconstructs Minimalist rhetoric.
His Banker’s Knot (2002) and Lan (2002), for example, work with basic sculptural concepts, building up form conceptually and physically from the foundation. Moving from elemental idealized forms to leaning, tilting, and balanced upper structures, these works display a profoundly rich and postmodern visual language. The witty Banker’s Knot rises from a cubic base, which both alludes to Renaissance symbolism (the finite universe) and recalls Minimalist work of the 1960s. Atop that, with a wink to Leonardo and his Canon of Proportions, is a circular disk, which in the 16th century referenced the infinite cosmic sphere. In Dill’s wry postmodern work, the disk reflects contemporary obsessions with economic ideals, as manifest in the circle-coin form that serves as the formal genesis for the rest of the sculpture. From this base a tumble of three precariously balanced vertical forms unleash dynamic energy. With visual jest, the vertical components of these sculptures—bronze two-by-fours—spoof Minimalism’s industrially manufactured forms. Rising from and returning to its base, Banker’s Knot comments on the contemporary conundrum of visual ideals and their relation to money matters.
Probing humanity’s ongoing fascination with perfected form, Dill rethinks the inherited meaning of elemental shapes and form. While intimating that the classical repertoire has been corrupted and secularized, his works continue to acknowledge their significance in the ongoing fabrication of sculpture.