In the Rigging, 2006. Bimetal casting and steel, 11 x 15 x 7 in. Photo: Courtesy the artist.

Robert Bielat: Absorbing Sculpture

In a contemporary art world seemingly devoted to the dictates of the market and the novelty that feeds it, the slow process of aesthetic maturation too often goes under-appreciated. Now pushing 60, Detroit sculptor Robert Bielat makes the case for recognizing the importance of mastery gained through material practice in the development of an artist’s work. Preserving the refuse of life within the refuge of art and sustaining a relationship to lost time have long been Bielat’s concern. He shares in a recognition of the existential ground zero of the modern condition as initially understood by the Romantics and subsequently by avant-gardists from Charles Baudelaire and Marcel Proust down to Gerhard Richter, Magdalena Abakanowicz, and even Damien Hirst. The substance of Bielat’s sculpture hasn’t deviated much: mashing up disparate elements of the broken world has been his stock in trade for three-plus decades. Nowadays, however, it seems like everything coming out of his studio is a winner. This wasn’t always the case. Twenty or 30 years ago, Bielat could be wildly uneven in his manic quest to hold entropy at bay. The once angry young man has settled into a more measured grumpiness.