Elisa D’Arrigo at Elizabeth Harris Gallery

Elisa D’Arrigo, Yellow Sprawl (2012), glazed ceramics, 9-1/2″ x 10’1/2″ x 8″; courtesy Elizabeth Harris Gallery

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The sculptor Elisa D’Arrigo has been a friend for over twenty years, a fellow roster-mate at Elizabeth Harris Gallery for almost as long. I can’t pretend to be altogether objective about the work. But this much I do know: D’Arrigo’s art has never flagged in rigor, drive and forward propulsion, and her current exhibition is a stunner.

Known for craggy accumulations of cloth, thread, paper and acrylic paint, D’Arrigo has switched to ceramics or, rather, returned to them after a hiatus of some thirty years. A mordant strain of biomorphism continues to inform the art, but it’s now leavened by a heartening strain of humor. Obsession has been waylaid by goofiness, painstaking methodology by quick-witted improvisations. And don’t talk to D’Arrigo about finicky distinctions between art and craft. She’s “always been energized by the conflation and dissolving of categories . . . I seek the and, not the or.”

Comparisons to Ken Price will be made, I suppose, but D’Arrigo is better than that. She knows the point of art is animism, not taxidermy. As for the flowers ensconced, here and there, within the artworks? They look great.

© 2012 Mario Naves

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