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Cal Lane's Ammunition

By Eva Ostrowska, November 2011

Cal Lane "Ammunition"
At Benrimon Contemporary Gallery ,
514 West 24th Street, New York.
November 3, 2011 – December 17, 2011

"Gutter Snipes I," 2011 Aluminum coated steel sewer pipe, by Cal Lane. Photo Courtesy of the Gallery.

The title of Cal Lane's show, "Ammunition,"conjured--at least linguistically--an image of the military preparing for an attack. Though it might be too fanciful, the show is a curiously elegant juxtaposition of metallic lace-like sculptures with industrial materials like steel beams, oil drums and ammunition boxes.

In the last ten years, Lane has sculpted at the Nova Scottia College of Art and Design and at the State University of New York. For her first solo exhibition at the Benrimon Contemporary gallery, Cal Lane uses industrial metals and does a lot with them. Her eleven new steel sculptures, displayed low to the ground or leaning on the wall, played with transparency and opacity.

The best are "Gutte I" and "Gutte II," two long lace sculptures that visitors can actually walk under. The sculptures have diverse iconographic references including historical patterns and imagery from the Roccoco style, from the Renaissance period and obviously, from Greek Mythology.

"Gutter Snipes I," 2011 Aluminum coated steel sewer pipe, by Cal Lane. Photo Courtesy of the Gallery.

With deadpan humour, intellectual acuity and a deep reservoir of absurdity, Lane's other sculptures, including "Infrared Illumination, 2011" and "Land Mine, 2011" both made in Steel Ammunition Boxes, revealed a tremendous breadth of experience and impeccable skill. Although the messages in these sculptures are unclear, her sense of humour is palpable. Looking like old-fashioned mailboxes, they create a narrative in nature, though it is left to the observer to invent the story.

In coming to grips with this work, then, it's essential to understand the dialectical structure between the overly aesthetic and the uncomfortably unaesthetic. Lane's work is hovering between loftiness of religious imagery and the poverty of the utilitarian object. All of her works have a sensual and immersive quality and like much of Lane's work, a geometric simplicity.

"Ammunition" by Cal Lane. Photo Courtesy of the Gallery.

Delvoye is an obvious influence and there are also echoes of Tomas Saraceno. But Lane's actual sculptures possess another sort of beauty. They are distinguished by a studied interest in craft. Her works are elegant and riveting. When you first see one you undertand all the others.

Taken together this group of sculptures subtly evoked analogies to the crafting of lace and thoughts. The pieces are painstakingly crafted in the manner of sewing. The many differents shapes--intricate yet smooth and precise--are often secured by handware. The pieces give the appearance, in varying degrees, of being simultaneously strong and light. Rather than sparking a closed conversation, this constellation of sculptures seemed to call forth an endless series of connected thoughts.

As poets put together words that form new and unexpected meanings, she places different forms of shapes in hopes of a similar outcome: to use a mixture of images and composition that is rooted in geographical and psychological space.


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