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Above: Ross Knight at the Sculpture Center, 44-19 Purves St., Long Island City (Queens), NY. On one level, Knight's work takes us back to a moment of not-so-ancient art history when the aesthetic purity of say, Anthony Caro smacked up against the obdurate factualness of Minimalist slabs and cubes. What makes it "now," as opposed to some '60s throwback, is the rickety, slightly forlorn look of the sculptures (yes, that's intentional, and very wry), masking a kind of stealth investigation not just of found materials but found design--in 80s-speak, a "play of real world signifiers" that would have been anathema to all those '60s guys. To plagiarize myself from an earlier article:
Using a limited but highly versatile repertoire of materials—aluminum pipes, corrugated vinyl sheeting, Velcro, paint—Knight erects flimsy, portable structures that are essentially abstract (like classic Minimalist works, they unfold and change as the viewer moves in and around them) but invoke influences ranging across the socio-economic spectrum, from high-tech trade show architecture to point-of-sale advertising displays to the jury-rigged shelters of the homeless. Highly sensitive to context, these constructions change with their placement and angle of view.Several things have happened with the work since that was written. Knight no longer paints the structures but relies instead on the straight-from-the-factory pigmentation of the cut plastic sheets (and it's tinted Plex now, in lieu of the lighter weight corrugated signboard). Also, he's making forays into outdoor sculpture, so the pieces now tread a delicate line between the light, provisional look that's essential on a content level and the practical realities of withstanding the elements. Thus, he buries concrete to anchor the aluminum tubes, uses bolts rather than velcro, and adds tightly stretched guy wires, incorporating these as new elements to his vocabulary, while still keeping that carefully controlled slapped-together feel. One imagines an enthusiastic (or deranged) carnival barker standing within the black & chartreuse enclosure above, exhorting the viewer to enter the gateway and experience more of that particular exquisite blue. Unlike the egomaniacal Richard Serra, Knight doesn't rudely block ingress and egress to a public building, though. You just walk right on through.