Garth Evans at Lori Bookstein Fine Art

Garth Evans, New Born (1988-89), cardboard, resin, glass fiber and paint, 18″ x 23″ x 11-1/2″; courtesy Lori Bookstein Fine Art

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The uncanniest aspect of Garth Evans’ angular sculptures from the late 1980s is their skin. Cobbled together largely from cardboard, Evans’ geometric forms are painted and then covered in resin, creating dense and lustrous patinas. Tactility is an inherent component of the sculptor’s art, but Evans elicits from it a not altogether rational empathy: The pieces, we intuit, have the capability to experience touch.

It’s an illusion, of course; that it’s a powerful one goes to Evans’ knack for endowing inert materials with the stuff of life. The planar forms of Evans’ pieces bring to mind Constructivism, particularly in the deft interplay of volume and void, but the work has more in common with classical sculpture as filtered through the distilled formal vocabularies of Brancusi, Henri Moore and Hans Arp.

Evans’ box-like effigies stretch, flex and, in the case of The Corner of Your Eye (1989), flamboyantly contort with convincing sinew. Figurative associations are confirmed by titles—Frog, say, or Mrs. Turpin’s Pig and New Born—but the work’s droll animism is the result, not of literary reference points, but the artist’s exacting calibration of angles—in their speed, especially. Evans’ achievement is all the more remarkable in how paint is integrated into his structures. No arbitrary overlays of color here: Just flesh made resonant and particular.

(c) 2009 Mario Naves

Originally published in the April 9, 2009 edition of City Arts.

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