Carl Hammer Gallery
Neil Goodman’s new work reinforces his status as one of Chicago’s premier sculptors. Each comprises a single bronze shape repeated a number of times under strict rules of symmetry. His shapes for the most part suggest elongated tools, linear with blades at one end similar to an axe or a spade. Each recalls the elegance of late Bronze Age weaponry such as that of Cycladic cultures, and, at the same time, its ritual figurines.
The vertical turning of the bronze units, as one connects to the next, elicit the figural and rituals reading. Under this transformation the shapes’ spatulate ends shift from primitive suggestions of heads to that of feet. The formality of their symmetry imparts a sense of ritual.
The artist’s refined shapes pair well with their spatial deployment, evoking a sense of space as imbued with a pervading order of which his sculptures partake. The sculptures embrace their portion of that space and engage it in a stately dance. In two sculptures, Twist and Bird on a Wire, Goodman has torqued the blades to enhance that dance. This twist softens the blades, rendering them more organic like petals or leaves.
Happily these “petals” do not come off as decoration and, for the most part, Goodman’s sculptures evade reduction into ornament. Target and Beak are arguable exceptions. The more graphic caps on these sculptures stoppered, for this reviewer, the extension of mind into space and time afforded by the show at large.
Steve Luecking is our Chicago Editor
Volume 32 no 3 Jan/Feb 2018 p 32