Elisa D’Arrigo, Budding (6) (2001), cloth, thread and acrylic paint, 33″ x 47″ x 49″; courtesy Elizabeth Harris Gallery
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Unlike a lot of contemporary body art, Elisa D’Arrigo’s sculpture offsets biological fatalism with formal vigor, a move that isn’t a denial of mortality as much as it is a nod to sustenance. Her cranky, fragmented forms are also more allusive than they seem at first glance. Her sculpture shares a relationship with craft that is perversely funny–Inside Out #2 posits late-period Philip Guston working in three dimensions. D’Arrigo’s work may concern itself with physical and, by implication, psychological anxiety, but it is also a source of comedy. This combination may well be the artist’s gift.
Originally published in the December 1994 edition of The New York Review of Art.