Friday, September 20, 2013

The Condition of Music. "Wire. Paper. Steel": Dominique Laubavie @ HCC Ybor Gallery 221

Dominique Laubavie's work is in museums, collections, towns and cities all over the world. We are fortunate that he (and his wife, Master Printer Erica Greenber-Schneider) currently lives in Tampa and works out of his spacious studio and gallery on Columbus Blvd., Bleu Acier (Blue Steel). Any city benefits from its resident creatives, and this solo show is a perfect example.

Dominique Laubavie, "Magnetic Fields"

 It is a coup, yet not surprising, to have this installation at Gallery 221. Laubavie has a background in philosophy, art history and literature. Bringing this show to an audience mostly composed of Community College members is mainly about education, but also about the artist's egalitarian attitude towards art. Katherine Gibson has been steadily pushing and shaping her HCC Dale Mabry space into a first-rate venue for the arts, becoming one of the best in the area. For Laubavie, Gibson's curation brings a resonant balance between the space and his work, one that is world-class and would stand up in any of the arts capitals around the globe.

"Wire, Paper, Steel" exhibit at HCC Dale Mabry Gallery 221

 The three media in this exhibit are distinct, yet connected by Laubavie's personality and considerable philosophical background. The show consists of a Steel Sculpture titled Flying  Buttress, two large drawings, "Magnetic Fields" and "Notes de Silence", dozens of small wire sculptures, and two smaller drawings.

Dominique Laubavie, "Notes of Silence"

For this artist (as with many) drawing is one of the foundations of his work. During the now-famous talk at the opening, he remarked that drawing was like "...gestures in air....".  These precede the work to come, and guide it, almost like  a conductor does an orchestra. He talked about "a certain fragility" and the resulting elegance. and irony in taking materials (and the artist himself) to their limits.

"Notes of Silence", Detail.

[The artist has referred to the black diamonds as "hole", "grave", "tomb", etc. Here they bridge trapezoidal planes.]

The large drawings involve variations on a theme of two or three forms. Dominique draws analogies between them and music and the qualities of both. He also has a sophisticated symbolic syntax regarding the forms in the drawings that is a narrative resulting from the interaction of  carefully modulated dualities.

Dominique Laubavie, "Flying Buttress".

In "Flying Buttress", there is a narrow steel ellipsis horizontally at the top, supported by thin, ribbon-like pieces (buttresses?) that look homomorphic, as if they were dancers holding the loop en pointe, as high up as possible. Laubavie's cultivated philosophical and literary foundations enter into his sculpture. During his talk he spoke of the Virginia Woolf novel, "The Waves". He referred to an abbreviated form of this quote:

"It is Percival … who makes us aware that these attempts to say, 'I am this, I am that,' which we make, coming together, like separated parts of one body and soul, are false. Something has been left out from fear. Something has been altered, from vanity. We have tried to accentuate differences. From the desire to be separate we have laid stress upon our faults, and what is particular to us. But there is a chain whirling round, round, in a steel-blue circle beneath" (99, italics mine).

 In the sculpture "Flying Buttress", the skeletonized upper loop resembles a bicycle chain, here above the individuals, instead of below, as in the passage from The Waves. The French words for "blue steel" is the same as that of the artist's studio: Bleu Acier. The steel in this work came from the renovation of the Columbus bridge, and there may be some inner reference to this in that the upper loop forms a bridge connecting all the "buttresses".

Dominique Laubavie, Untitled.

The back of Gallery 221 has several white, upright Space Oddyssey-like monoliths they call "teeth" behind them are thin shelves holding the third pillar of this show, small sculptures made from the wires holding in the caps of champagne bottles. Some viewers found these problematic because of their diminutive size and humble materials. A friend of mine asked me "How can these be art?". They are art. At the opening night artists' talk, Laubavie casually remarked that they were, in part, included so as to inspire everyman to directly engage in the art of creation. In these small works, ne can see the same concerns expressed in the larger paper and steel works.

Dominique Laubavie, Untitled.

Congratulations to Dominique Laubavie, Katherine Gibson and her staff, and HCC Dale Mabry for a first-rate show.

--- Luis

(This show closes on 9/26. The gallery 221 is on the 2nd floor of the HCC Dale Mabry Library).

Dominique Laubavie, Opening Night.

Dominique Laubavie and Gregg Perkins at Artist's Talk

Dominique Laubavie on opening night.


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