Tool for Seeing. Cast glass, stainless steel, redwood, 16" x 18" x 18"
Introducing Lawrence Labianca, "blacksmith of the future."
Expert workmanship? Materials with inherent beauty and resonance? Elegant and lucid ideas? Yes... I found all this in San Francisco a few weeks ago, getting to know a few sculptures by Lawrence Labianca -- an artist who brings new meaning to the idea of tools and translation.
Some of his pieces are tools to help us look at aspects of the natural world (as above) ... and others are visually honest and illuminating translations. Labianca manages to visually maintain the root of the original, alongside or encapsulated in the new translation; making the process, the original and the new result simultaneously visible. And as with all translations, shows us how something is both lost and gained in the process.
Thesaurus. Wood and glass, 14h" x 13w" x 4d"
Below, Labianca explicitly demonstrates the "bending" of nature by the artist's hands. A tree branch, bark and all, has been disassembled to then be reassembled, the sections strung back together and winched into a perfect circle.
Full Stop. Birch, stainless steel, 36" x 36" x 4"
Tree at My Window. Sandblasted glass, steel, redwood dust, 76h" x 12w" x 2d"
In the piece above, the rings etched on the glass are from a section of the tree used in the work below ("The best way out is through") as are the wood shavings inside the glass -- juxtaposing an "impression" taken of the tree in a new material, with the tree's "actual" matter, no longer in a form that allows us to recollect the original.
I love this one... how it is supported by the tension of a granite stone weight, and how you can shift the position and gesture of the pole by twisting the individual slices of wood. (Not that i'd normally think you could rearrange a sculpture, but the artist showed me how!)
Ash Pole. Ash, steel, cable, stone, 73h" x 12w"
Labianca has also made two limited edition prints, fittingly they are woodcuts. Each available for $75 unframed.
Divining Wheel, woodcut, 11 x 14
Woodpile, woodcut, 11 x 14
His current show, The Sound of Trees, is up at the Sculpturesite Gallery in San Francisco until Oct 21. The gallery is located in SOMA/the Museum District, on Third Street between Howard and Folsom, one block South of SFMOMA. Open Tue-Sat 10-6, Thursdays 10-8PM