Francesc Burgos showcases "New Works" at WSG Gallery
The last time we saw Francesc Burgos’ sculpture was in November 2008 with Lynda Cole at the Ann Arbor District Library’s Malletts Creek Branch. His contribution to that display consisted of a group of site-specific unnamed wood dowel and porcelain creations that essentially soared about the library’s shelves, turning the branch library itself into a work of art.
Interestingly, Burgos’ “New Works” at the WSG Gallery marks a shift in direction from what we saw in 2008. His gallery statement calls this exhibit a “poetics of space.” There are 2 sculptural sets reminiscent of that prior exhibit, but they’re the only remnants of his prior work. The poetry remains intact, but WSG’s “New Works” shows us the steps that led to his earlier contraction of space.
Burgos’ art in this WSG display is skillfully accomplished on its own merits. What this newer exhibit shows us is an aesthetic that has continued interest in the progressive expansion and compression of plane geometry. Therefore, comparing (and contrasting) Burgos’ current sculpture tells us everything we need know of those earlier, enigmatic site-specific sculptures.
The larger part of Burgos’ “New Works” involves ceramics of sweeping geometry, leading him to sculpt form with an appreciation for line and depth. These works — “Abstraction of a Woman’s Head with Hat (after Julio Gonzales), Montserrat,” “Double Fold, Cradle,” and “Double Fold, Hull”— use earthenware to carve out space through rudimentary structure.
There are no frills here, as Burgos’ approach shows his appreciation for Euclidean angle and repose using terra sigillata for decoration. The open-ended ovals of “Double Fold, Cradle” and “Double Fold, Hull” strategically curve in upon themselves while the draping, overlapping folds of “Abstraction of a Woman’s Head with Hat” uses a apposite symmetry to gracefully fold the work’s dominate coat over the abstracted nape of the “woman’s” neck.
By contrast, Burgos favors a cool density in his “Study Model for a National Cenotaph.” A 3-slab monument, Burgos’ diminutive sculpture — a study model, after all — points toward his continued interest in minimalism.
A bit more intimate in scale, Burgos’ appreciation for straight lines and then bending his geometry accordingly, is best represented by his earthenware and wood “Branch and Return,” which also illustrates his interest in the work of 20th century cubist sculptor Julio Gonzales. This graceful 2-foot sculpture reflects Burgos fascination with the music of geometry.
Burgos’ oversized porcelain and wood “Ouroboros” gives us his art at its most abstractly lyrical. This handsome masterwork — consisting of 2 tapering and arching parallel strands of wood dowels and porcelain connectors bent into graceful recursive ovals — ruminates on the lasting beauty of geometry.
Burgos’ “Patterns and Paradigms: Red I and Black II” wall installations are the refinement of his geometric purity. In fact, they might as well be his autograph. Gracefully blending in with the rest of the WSG environment, Burgos’ wall installations energetically engage their space by playing with the displacement of volume through objective means. Using squiggles to accent his creativity, Burgos’ “Patterns and Paradigms” make art through nearly nothing.
“Francesc Burgos: New Works” continues through May 16 at WSG Gallery, 306 South Main Street. Gallery hours are noon-6 p.m., Tuesday-Wednesday; noon-10 p.m., Thursday-Saturday; and noon-5 p.m., Sunday. For information, call 734-761-2287.
John Carlos CantÃº is a free-lance writer who reviews art for AnnArbor.com.