Fresh Designs from a Modern Sculptor Invigorated by Architectural History

Mar 21, 2016 7:00PM

For some architects, architecture is more than practical; it’s utopian. “Architecture has always been a very idealistic profession,” Frank Gehry has said. “It’s about making the world a better place.” In a new solo show at Hezi Cohen Gallery in Tel Aviv, sculptor Madeleine Boschan colorfully explores this close relationship between design and idealism.

The exhibition, “in which its gaze, bent merely on itself, upholds and gleams,” features a series of architectural sculptures built from plywood and rendered in a rainbow of colors using egg tempera, dispersion, and pigments. From a distance, their scale is deceptive, but the pieces are actually small enough to fit on a tabletop; each looks like the model for a much larger sculpture or structure. It’s easy to imagine Untitled (emerald) (2016) and Untitled (brimstone) (2015) as doorways. Untitled (azure) (2015) looks like a plan for a small building or monument.

Each of Boschan’s works is a pleasure to behold. Simple and richly hued, all crisp angles and clean lines, they seem to invite you to step into the composition. That sensation, as Gehry would surely agree, touches on the aspirational component of architecture.

There’s also something timeless about Boschan’s work. As a viewer, you can’t quite decide if these forms are strikingly modern or practically prehistoric. Untitled (mauve) (2016) is just one of several pieces that calls to mind the ancient trilithons of Stonehenge. Boschan draws a line between the two time periods, showing that even the sleekest contemporary building or sculpture has ties to an older tradition.

As Hendrik Lakeberg writes in “Swinging Utopia,” an essay about the exhibition, Boschan’s sculptures are full of references to Western architectural tradition. “Structural clarity, symmetry, sharp edges and flat surfaces—all are attempts to overcome the confusing mechanisms of nature. This steady development can be traced from the Ancient Greeks, through the Enlightenment to Modernism, the Bauhaus and Brutalism.” In Boschan’s sculptures, students of architecture will identify many of these references—Greek porticos, powerful Bauhaus-style lines, etc. Yet instead of being bored by old techniques, Boschan’s beautiful work seems invigorated by them.

Bridget Gleeson

Madeleine Boschan: in which its gaze, bent merely on itself, upholds and gleams” is on view at Hezi Cohen Gallery, Tel Aviv, Feb. 18–Apr. 2, 2016.

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