Comments on: Peter Hide and Walter Early Protesting Time Abstract Critical is a not-for profit company aiming to establish a new critical context for all generations of artists involved with ambitious abstract art. Sun, 09 Nov 2014 17:23:33 +0000 hourly 1 By: John Link Sun, 22 Dec 2013 02:40:12 +0000 Judging from the JPEGs, it is clear Peter Hide is pretty damn good at making sculpture, period.

By: ahab Sun, 10 Nov 2013 00:50:26 +0000 Despite the lack of expressed interest in this thread, I said I would, so I shall…

Walter Early’s painted steel might be said to be like Peter Hide’s unpainted work by virtue of a shared inside-out quality. But Early’s are rather more tangled things than fitted or composed. They have the feel of girthy Mobius strips that by way of a deeper truth have survived the hydraulic forces of an industrial scrapyard. But, as has been touched on by Mr. Sweet and Sam and myself (and others outside the hearing of this post), the coatings are not in tune with the truth.

And I do feel it is the coatings, not the colours exactly, that are in conflict with the nature of Early’s ‘Jonnycakes’. Powdercoating is an electromagnetically applied and baked layer of tinted plastic powder that has the advantage over aerosols by coating even those invisible surfaces that are untouchable by a direct line of spray, and over dipping in their range of colour and gloss. Besides being highly durable, powdercoating can, in the hands of the most skilled technicians, achieve a wide range of thicknesses: fom microns to millimeters.

As I recall, the royal blue one came out matte and I remember saying I thought for that it was not as successful as the glossy ones. With more reflection (mine, not the sculptures’), and evidenced by the otherwise very good photography above, I feel the shiny-ness was unsatisfactorily resolved; but more importantly, where the painted surface is a problem I’m thinking it’s the thickness of the paint that is at issue.

There is no going back in these painted ones. Sandblasting cannot strip the hidden areas of powdercoat, and although repainting is an option, from this point the surfaces can only get doughier. Apparently there remain some sandblasted but unpainted ones… these would be worth reviewing in this regard. Actually, I think it may be worth the sacrifice to overpaint one of the more troubled ‘Jonnycakes’, and it’s no less likely that a partial uncovering of some areas (by sandblasting or sanding) might lead to heightened distinction between interior and exterior surfaces.

And all that is just ‘brushing the surface’ of a full consideration of Early’s work in this show. As exhibited, they need not be presumed done and done but perhaps just getting underway, which would be more overt fulfillment of Sweet’s expectation: that what sculptors make contribute to the history of the world of sculpture.

By: ahab Fri, 08 Nov 2013 08:44:19 +0000 Hi, Sam.

Mayhaps I’ll be repeating or embellishing your comments, but…

I can’t help further pointing out to Mr. Sweet that there’s so much more sculpture being sculpted out in this wide, wide world than he gives credit for — post-sixties, painted or not, boxy or otherwise — and I feel well-tempted to further critique his criticism. “Arriviste”, “contrarian”, “wrong-headed”, and “immature”, “unadventurous”, “grumpy” and “clumsy” are specious, ad hominem accusations of the artists themselves and avoid the works at hand… so it may be better if I were to ignore the writing and narrow in on the sculpture itself.

Peter Hide’s decades’ of work encompass a surprising latitude, when considered for its range of size and stylistic effect. Much of it may indeed seem stand-offish, initially. It is burly stuff that only reveals its most tenderly worked junctures from very close up, which are often then revealed to be heavy-gauge welds, industrially scribed with 350 amps of mark-making — or, obversely, a line-weight drawn between parts that are not actually joined at all.

Burly-big and burly-small can have radically differing effects, but in both plinth’d and monumental modes Hide has hardly wavered from testing his hypothesis (as I take it) that gravity, with time, has a softening effect on us and on most everything we live with. His are not computer-generated and machine-made, but right-sized, hand-worked things; yet, they also evoke the tectonic, properly scaling our human impression upon the earth’s favoured, breathing mineral-body (see: Ruskin on iron).

Every Hide sculpture’s outer profile is married to its internal contours (a kind of inside-out relationship of parts-to-whole), but not by static silouhette. The result is a sort of drawing-by-mass: heavy form. His sculptures have an initial attraction via their contoured lyricism and staying power by way of internal compaction.

I’m highly fortunate to have been acquainted with Hide’s work over some years in its varying states of completion (inside and out of the studio), and perhaps have the unfair advantage of an insider’s knowledge… but upon rereading, still feel the previous paragraph decently descriptive of those sculptures he’s contributed to Ms. Piper’s “Protesting Time” exhibition.

I have more thoughts to posit regarding Walter Early’s pieces, but no more time this evening in which to compose and post them. Tomorrow, perhaps, or protesting the late hour, tomorrow-tomorrow…

By: Sam Wed, 06 Nov 2013 07:23:04 +0000 Hi ahab, I’m glad you said this, as I so feel that David has been unfair on Early’s sculpture. Of course Hide’s sculpture is more sophisticated, but he has been doing this for quite a lot longer than Early has been alive!

I do think that the colour is a problem – less the hue, but rather its thick materiality, and its high gloss. Both of which disguise much of what is good about the work (which I have seen pre-painting). What is partly disguised is not the steel itself – in that I don’t think ‘truth to materials’ is interesting – but rather what David calls ‘sculptural activity’.

There are lots of plays with how parts can meet at an edge or with lines which allow us to trace paths across the sculptures, and a good feel for the containing edges of a sculpture, and how these edges relate to a sense of movement within the work (the different handling of containing edges is perhaps characteristic around which Early’s and Hide’s sculpture could be directly compared?) I think this is particularly visible in the red and green sculptures pictured above.

As you’ve pointed out ahab, it is a bit disconcerting to not elucidate the values of the sculpture tradition which Early is judged not to have added to. I also find the words arriviste and contrarian slightly disturbing – as if adherence to the tradition was a value in and of itself.

By: ahab Fri, 01 Nov 2013 04:43:29 +0000 I was glad to see that “Protesting Time” had garnered a review here on AbCrit, since it is a site for some bit of debate about abstractness in sculpture – which brushes rhetorically against the relation (or relevance) of abstract sculpture to the rest of contemporary art practise. I was immediately dismayed, though, by Sweet’s referring to Nevelson, Morris, Judd, Johns, Warhol and Stella as the masters by which Hide’s sculpture is introduced then measured against. And via the highly-extant issue of ‘boxes’, no less.

Really? There are no sculptors Hide’s work is more in the vein of than that contentious covey of boxed-in literalists whose sculpture really is boring to look at? (Though I admit to having seen a Nevelson or two that interested me.) Not David Smith, or Eduardo Chillida (just to name a few giants of boxy, metal sculpture)? And is there no more pressing context for Hide’s things than a box, it being in that extra-special category of a thing containing other things? Not their carven solidity, or vacuum-packed density, or crushing gravity, or worried and ‘felt’ surfaces… or, more associatively, as things from a way-back time that have eroded from the inside out?

Sweet’s language is, I found, accurate when writing about the interior and exterior relationships of the elements comprising one of these Hides, and the paragraph dealing with “All-Round Cube” is a decent mini-essay that touches nicely on that piece’s evocation of dark-matter mass. But I take umbrage with the way Early’s pieces have been brushed off with vague language: “it’s difficult to know what other artistic category might accommodate it” – does it need a ‘box’, perhaps? And: “it still looks much like a type of steel sculpture, but unfortunately lacks any of the art form’s virtues”, which are what, exactly?

I agree that the colours used in the Early sculptures under discussion are rather more dissonant than resonant with their forms, and bely their material reality; however so do the very forms of the steel, for of steel they’re made – found, welded and ground into supple soft-feeling things that surely ought to melt yet further, and even while under observation. Instead, they seem caught either just ahead of or after the moment of bounce.

Here my little bit of descriptive vernacular has yet to valuate the things as sculpture among sculptures, but even the little I’ve teased out attests to the show’s deeper attraction. I understand intimately how very difficult it is to write clearly and interestingly about how we see and are affected by such particularly unique objects – it is perhaps harder even than making art that’s good to the eye. But to so stretch the low “limits of critical generosity” comes across, to me at least, as a grumpy and clumsy endeavour.