Sarah Braman is in the midst of a mid-career resurgence. “Growth,” her recent solo exhibition, featured a group of table-top assemblages made from found furniture, wood, glass, and aluminum. While Braman is known for large-scale works, her smaller sculptures command equal recognition. Related to Minimalist traditions, these works use deceptively simple components to create a consortium of forms and effects, often highly colorful. Individually, they demand to be walked around; in groups, they engage in a complex dialogue about abstract creativity across materials and sequences of intricate, connected forms.
In At Home (2019), two chairs, one large and one small, rest on a nearly complete open circle of maple wood, which supports the precariously balanced seats. It is an illusion, but a believable one, exercising a tightness and restraint that offsets the sense of improvisation. Braman does this regularly with aluminum casts of random objects, joining them together in assemblage fashion. Yellow (2019) consists of an altered found dresser, which serves as a base for a large, upended bowl-like form hollowed out from a large chunk of wood. The concave space has been painted yellow. Though unlikely, the effect of the two conjoined elements seems intuitively correct. At Home and Yellow, like the other works in “Growth,” convey an awareness of how juxtaposed elements, no matter how distant they may be from each other formally and thematically, can be arranged to make visual sense.
Growth (2019) is simple—a slab of oak supporting a slightly deconstructed glass cube whose planes exhibit different colors: blue, magenta, yellow, and green. Here, as has happened before in Braman’s work, the composition offers a merger between Minimalist sculpture (the oak slab) and Color Field painting (the colored glass panels). Growth is devoted equally to two and three dimensions; it manages to be solid without being heavy, beautiful without being decorative. This is generally true of Braman’s work. Night walk with Sonny (that year that Phil got everybody flashlights) (2019), made of painted aluminum and glass, feels very much like a constructed painting; one of its two planes is mostly flat—a curved black element embraces a circular piece of glass, painted an almost sky blue and edged with a darker blue rim. The other plane consists of a dark blue bar, the far end supporting the black piece, while the other holds a purple-colored aluminum cast of a large, ridged mushroom. Together, these four pieces hold our interest, compelling us to regard their combination of interlocking form and color variations. Braman clearly understands how the most carefully composed sculpture can support painterly effects—a methodology that keeps her work very much alive.