Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Andrew Harding at Twist Art Gallery November 2011


Symmetry for the Devil

http://artnownashville.com/visual-arts-in-nashville/symmetry-for-the-devil/
November 16, 2011
Sculptor Andrew Harding’s new show at Twist Gallery is a singular delight. One of our favorite local artists before a recent relocation to Chicago, Harding is back in town and his Symmetry Breaking Being is a big reminder of the artist’s exceptional craftsmanship as well as his capacity for creating a compelling dialog between concepts, materials and – in this instance – the gallery space itself.
Symmetry Breaking Being
Symmetry is first and foremost a show that turns the sculpture-making process inside out, putting drawing – which most sculptors engage as a preparatory practice – at the center of the exhibit. This adds Harding’s voice to a recent local trend of similarly-themed displays of 3D forms, 2D sketches and – in the case of Symmetry– combinations of both.
Harding’s show is more or less divided between large wall installations and a series of eight, small collages. However, it’s not quite so cut-and-dry. Just as all of the pieces are a mixture of materials, objects and drawing, the various works themselves also reflect and borrow from one another, bringing an uncommon cohesiveness to Harding’s overall exploration of the dynamism of the natural world and the resulting fragility of fleeting organic shapes and forms. In the artist’s own words: “Change and transformation are the essence of nature. I am interested in the confluence of such forms…continuously breaking into and out of being.”
Energy Knot
“Energy Knot” is the show’s most memorable image. A thick, twisted red line painted directly on the gallery wall curves back on itself. The form reminds me of both some kind of unfamiliar industrial design or, simultaneously, of a magnification of an unidentified microscopic flagellate. The form is adorned with a number of crystalline shapes drawn on and cut out of vellum. These too are adhered directly to the gallery wall. All of the large wall installations contain such elements and in every case they stand in for the rigidly ordered, underlying elemental combinations that give rise to dynamic living forms. Harding reiterates this theme by peppering a number of the large works with the small wood and metal sculptures he’s best known for. Harding’s own forms are certainly dynamic and the artist shows no respect for the normally formal confines of the gallery; his pieces sprawl across the walls and literally – in the case of the exhibit’s title installation – crawl up onto the ceiling.
Harding’s small collages also combine both organic and geometric shapes to explore the dynamic cycle of order and entropy that sees both the emergence of form and its dissolution in the multitudinous processes that make-up the natural world. Thin strips of metal and wood are cut into organic shapes and combined with colorful drawings to create compelling compositions that are simultaneously stately, graceful and ebullient. The pieces are eminently look-at-able as they call to mind organ systems, biological forms and even abstract human figures in their wriggling, tangled shapes.
Symmetry Breaking Being turns the sculptural process inside out, revealing the underlying practice that results in a finished form. But this ambitious exhibit also turns the shape-making processes of the natural world on its collective head, looking beyond structure to the principles of physical order that are the generators of organic form. It sounds complicated – and it is – but Harding makes it look easy. In fact, it seems to come naturally.
Symmetry Breaking Being is on view at Twist Gallery in downtown Nashville through Nov. 26.