Villa Terrace’s ‘Expressions in Iron’
Nauman presents more
than 30 pieces, both large and small, that reinterpret metalwork into a
functional and contemporary art form. Candlesticks, garden gates, kitchen
utensils and railings share gallery space with several sculptural ironworks.
Metalwork exhibits and
artists like Nauman demonstrate the amazing, imaginative works that can be
forged from hammer and cold, hard steel. While several pieces reflect strength
and tenacity, including Table, others
like Black Rose, Oak Leaf and Grape Vine show
a softer touch with lifelike textures of bark, leaves and vines. Metal appears
to softly intertwine around flowers or fruit.
The artist’s four
examples of fireplace tool sets, objects commissioned by individuals for their
private homes, also depict the imaginative, decorative side of functional
pieces. Each set displays originality, ranging from primitive yet elegant
simplicity to the ornate, with one set bearing the flaming head of a dragon.
Nauman names Cyril
Colnik as an inspiration, and the museum’s permanent Colnik collection and
archives occupy a second-floor gallery opposite the Nauman exhibit. Though
Nauman expertly expresses himself through the forging and molding of steel,
viewers will better understand Colnik’s masterworks and this art form in
general if the two are viewed together.
As viewers see this interrelated context, they will appreciate the difficulty and complexity of fashioning artwork from metals. The Nauman exhibition at Villa Terrace provides an excellent opportunity to contrast the historical and contemporary visions of two artists to gain a more complete understanding of this infrequently exhibited art medium.