Open: Tue-Sat 10am-6pm

24 East 81st Street, NY 10028, New York, United States
Open: Tue-Sat 10am-6pm


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Mel Kendrick: Cutting Corners

David Nolan Gallery, New York

Thu 7 Mar 2024 to Sat 13 Apr 2024

24 East 81st Street, NY 10028 Mel Kendrick: Cutting Corners

Tue-Sat 10am-6pm

Artist: Mel Kendrick

What first drew me to Mel Kendrick’s work more than 20 years ago was the total immediacy of his sculptures in the round: playful, fresh and full of vitality. I found them incredibly smart, both rough and sophisticated in all the right ways. I thought of Constantin Brancusi rather than Naum Gabo; rather than an inscrutable intellectualism, the works possessed a powerful physicality. – David Nolan

David Nolan Gallery presents an exhibition of new works by Mel Kendrick titled Cutting Corners, the artist’s first solo exhibition since his celebrated 2021 traveling museum retrospective. The show includes wood sculptures created within the past twelve months, along with works on paper and a cast concrete work that relates to his monumental 2009 exhibition in Madison Square Park in New York.


Artworks

Mel Kendrick, Untitled, 2024

Ebonized mahogany with Japan color

19 × 32 × 15 in

Courtesy of David Nolan Gallery. Photo: Jenny Gorman

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Mel Kendrick, The Anchor, 2024

Ebonized mahogany with Japan color

33 1/4 × 27 3/4 × 13 1/2 in

Courtesy of David Nolan Gallery. Photo: Jenny Gorman

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Mel Kendrick, Cutting Corners, 2024

Ebonized mahogany with Japan color

29 × 52 1/2 × 15 in

Courtesy of David Nolan Gallery. Photo: Jenny Gorman

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Mel Kendrick, Untitled, 2024

Mahogany and gesso

14 × 20 × 12 in

Courtesy of David Nolan Gallery. Photo: Lance Brewer

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Mel Kendrick, Stringer, 2023

Ebonized mahogany and EPS foam

34 × 44 1/2 × 16 in

Courtesy of David Nolan Gallery. Photo: Jenny Gorman

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Installation Views

Installation image for Mel Kendrick: Cutting Corners, at David Nolan Gallery Installation image for Mel Kendrick: Cutting Corners, at David Nolan Gallery Installation image for Mel Kendrick: Cutting Corners, at David Nolan Gallery Installation image for Mel Kendrick: Cutting Corners, at David Nolan Gallery Installation image for Mel Kendrick: Cutting Corners, at David Nolan Gallery Installation image for Mel Kendrick: Cutting Corners, at David Nolan Gallery

Over the course of five decades, Kendrick has established himself as a preeminent American sculptor, pushing the boundaries of the medium through a rigorous and sustained commitment to discerning a work through the process of making it. Though often mentioned in relation to artists such as Sol LeWitt for his conceptual underpinnings, Dorothea Rockburne for her mathematically driven processes, Eva Hesse for her expansive use of materials, and Martin Puryear for his minimalist treatment of wood, Kendrick remains a singular figure in his open and experimental approach to what he has called “drawing within a material.”

With a material ingenuity and formal inventiveness, Kendrick transforms single blocks of wood into optical puzzles, carving parts from the whole only to reassemble them atop or alongside the excavated base. In this elegant economy of both form and material, nothing is ever wasted, nor is anything added; each block is a question that contains its own answer. The result is something akin to a visual fugue: independent geometric systems are built up within a single composition to create a complex and dazzling harmonic whole, celebrating and complicating their own material and conceptual logic.

Self-contained and self-referential, Kendrick’s works bear the evidence of their own making and, crucially, the struggles, errors and mistakes inherent in that process. Graphite marks, paint drips, saw cuts, and fingerprints are all layers of information, markers along a timeline, as if the sculptures were not so much finished pieces as they are stopping points at particular moments within the continuum of creation. And while the wood grain always remains visible, even under a layer of Japan paint, each step in Kendrick’s process of assembling, carving and reassembling the wood blocks seems to further remove the material from its ecological origins and push it toward a uniquely physical (rather than theoretical) abstraction.

Indeed, as Kendrick has continued to evolve and reinvent himself within his distinct visual language, his free-standing and pedestal-based works have acquired a new weightiness and thickness, with heavy wood, steel and concrete bases that connect them with the floor. The works have a mass and gravity, an earth-bound physicality, that’s countered by their dynamic movement and energy, with lyrical curves and rounded pieces repeated and stacked in undulating cascades. Bands of black, white and yellow Japan paint pull the viewer from section to section, weaving in and out of negative space, from the ostensible front to what could be its reverse, in an elaborately playful game. As the viewer attempts to mentally reassemble the sculpture’s constituent parts, the artist confounds our ideas of perception and materiality.

Courtesy of David Nolan Gallery. Photo: Lance Brewer

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