Sui Jianguo, Blind Portraits, 2014. Bronze, dimensions variable.

Sui Jianguo

New York

Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Central Park

Sui Jianguo, who is best known for his “Mao Jacket” and “Dinosaur” series, which figuratively and symbolically comment on China’s Cultural Revolution, ventured into new territory with Blind Portraits. This monumental public meditation on blindness marked a dramatic shift in tone, point of view, style, and process. In addition, Blind Portraits does not conform to dominant public art trends; it is neither minimal, geometric, nor lifelike. The four bronze works, scaled up to 17 feet tall, are “blind” in more than one sense. Sui created his clay models when he was blindfolded, so he could not see what he was doing. The dramatically gouged, lumpen forms, which somewhat resemble heads with misplaced eye sockets and mouth openings, may themselves be seen as “blind.” Not only are the heads misshapen, but the welds in the bronze form large seams that do not conform to a regular pattern. The construction either departs from or exaggerates the original clay models, drawing attention to the pieced-together quality of the heads. At night, the four abstracted, ovoid forms, lit only by ambient light, blended into the urban landscape and seemed rooted in Central Park, suggesting bodies sprung from the earth itself. This, in turn, offered a reminder that humans, too, have an unspoken connection to the earth—and are dependent on it in ways to which we may be blind. …see the entire review in the print version of July/August’s Sculpture magazine.