Sunday, March 22, 2015

New Kinetic Sculpture by Lin Emery at Arthur Roger

Isadora Duncan
Sometimes the art world seems to be all about novelty. In New York, the New Museum has long been synonymous with trendiness, and now, at my former employer, the Museum of Modern Art, the pop-diva Bjork's massive exhibition has been widely panned for trying too hard to be cool, inadvertently inflicting collateral damage on all concerned. Such stunts beg the question: what is their opposite? Is there a more timeless sort of visual art that not only transcends trends but also bridges the divide between nature and technology, drama and subtlety, the sensual and the cerebral? Yes there is: Lin Emery's kinetic sculptures often epitomize that kind of timeless and finely tuned consistency. But, like the timeless, pristine miracles of the natural world on which they are based, routinely pristine works can be easy to take for granted. 
Garden of Earthly Delights
Unless, of course, something changes, as appears to be the case in her current Arthur Roger show. For Emery, whose local exhibitions began in the 1950s at The Orleans Gallery, this city's pioneering co-op space, most inconsistencies and rough edges were polished out long ago. Consequently, whimsical departures like her smallish, motorized work, Isadora Duncan, come as a surprise. It does a scarf dance like its namesake at the push of a button, but this robotic diva is more enigmatic than flamboyant, a reminder of  surrealism's prescient wariness of automata. Another surprise is her somewhat larger Garden of Earthly Delights, her abstract kinetic evocation of Hieronymus Bosch's darkly sensual masterpiece. Both are experimental, imperfect but daring. Also unexpected is  Suspended, a polished hanging sculpture that suggests an airborne version of her iconic, leafy, windswept and elemental forms. What they all have in common with classic Emery sculptures like Return--an elegantly interwoven cluster of glistening silver crescents--is a quality of motion in the form of a sweeping recursive cycle. Here the orbiting arcs of those gleaming silver crescents reflect the iconic patterning of this city, with its hints of things fragile yet eternal. ~Bookhardt, Abstract Kinetic Sculpture by Lin Emery, Through April 25, Arthur Roger Gallery, 432 Julia St. 522-1999.