Michael Brenson > Article: Richard Hunt at Dorsky Gallery 1989

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Richard Hunt at Dorsky Gallery 1989

The New York Times April 14 1989 Richard Hunt Dorsky Gallery 578 Broadway (near Prince Street) Through April 29

Anyone searching for the appearance of the new may take one look at this show and leave. Richard Hunt’s sculptures contain classical and narrative references. His shapes and materials bring to mind earlier 20th century works by Theodore Roszak, Isamu Noguchi, John Chamberlain and Jacob Epstein. With their themes of work and change, Mr. Hunt’s sculptures may seem to have a 1950’s or even 30’s feel. In addition, this exhibition is a bazaar. There are too many different kinds of works in one gallery, and some of the white wood bases for the bronzes are awful.

But if you give the works a chance, you are likely to find that the criteria responsible for rejecting them are unjust. Mr. Hunt is a first-rate sculptor. His welded metal work is entirely three-dimensional. In his fine crayon and ink drawings, his feeling for space and gesture is clear. He has an unusual ability to take a gesture and finish it so a sculptural movement of idea seems satisfying and complete. In the control of line in "Anvil's Reach" and in the balancing act within "Upward," there is a gift that is rare.

Mr. Hunt is not after total newness. He wants to balance new and old, industry and the hand, transformation and memory. This is apparent in the way he takes a hard modern material like Cor-ten steel and makes it seem as elastic as wax. It is apparent in "Flyaway," where a figure with arms outstretched in horror is also a dove in flight. In "Wing Generator" – a steel sculpture that seems to have been built with old and new machines – wings seem to be churned out and ground up at the same time. Mr. Hunt has long been attracted to an iconography of fire – that element of destruction, purification and change so essential to the welding process.

There are problems in this work. Mr. Hunt does run the risk of anecdote. Some works in this show are labored. The relation between sculpture and base is not always resolved. But there are also great strengths, and the commitment both to the need to remember and the need for change must be kept in mind.

Michael Brenson