Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sibylle Peretti at Callan Contemporary

The mysterious figurative glass sculptures in Sibylle Peretti's I Search in Snow expo at Callan feature young children who seem far removed from the playfully animated kids we normally encounter. As otherworldly as creatures in myths and faerie tales, Peretti's children exist in dreamlike settings they share with sinuous plants and small animals. Deftly rendered in a pale, soft palette of translucent white and magenta kiln-formed glass, they evoke the fantastical inner life we all experienced when we were very young, or perhaps the echoes of that magically boundless time that may reappear in our dreams even now. For Peretti, childhood and dreams are part of nature, and her work has long been inspired by the legends of "feral children" who lived outside human society, a phenomenon that melds modern notions of alienation and the traditional nature mysticism of Peretti's native Germany. Whatever the reason, her kids have the tranced out quality associated with hermits who communicate with wild animals as we see in To Know a Hawk, below, where a rather catatonic looking lad exchanges meaningful gazes with a hawk while others seem to cluster on his chest and shoulders.

In Snowchild, top, a young girl lies sleeping as hawks gather around her, and here the child is inseparable from the wild world. Both works are crafted from white kiln-forged glass that looks almost like Carrera marble, giving them a classical aura that contrasts with their psychological vibe. In the wall pieces, children often appear connected to each other by sinuous magenta vines or silver branches, visual effects that reach their most elaborate fruition in her magical bell jar series. In White Hawk 3, two hawks appear under a grape -like cluster of icy clear glass, and only from certain oblique angles can a child's face be seen in the dome's mirrored rear surfaces. In these and other works, Peretti's children suggest near-mythical creatures whose profound silences enable connections with wild nature and its equivalents in the deep recesses of the poetic imagination. ~Bookhardt

I Search in Snow: New Sculpture by Sibylle Peretti, Through May 31, Callan Contemporary, 518 Julia St., 525-0518; Left: White Hawk 3 by Sibylle Peretti