Linfield Fine Art Gallery praised by Oregonian

The sculptures of Portland artist David Corbett are on display until Nov. 20 at the campus gallery.

Corbett is captivated by the intersection of lines at haphazard, skewed angles.

Over the past few years, he has devoted his practice to this simplified form, deploying it with obsessive repetition.

In his contribution to this year’s Portland 2010 survey, these shapes appeared in both two-dimensional works, as crystalline polygons filled in with crisscrossing lines, and vexing sculptural counterparts, which translated those lattices into tangled, spatial forms.

That body of work leaned hard on the tension between their renderings as flat drawings on paper and objects in space, not unlike a blueprint displayed adjacent to the structure it describes.

For his exhibition of new work at the Linfield Fine Art Gallery, Corbett has presented six of his signature sculptures, spread spaciously across the gallery’s floor.

Without the two-dimensional work, the objects’ evocative forms and raw, somewhat repulsive materiality become the focus: spindly shafts that connect at knobby joints à la molecular models, coated with thick, gloopy pours of enamel.

They’re mystifying, cage-like structures that bring to mind fantastic relics, perhaps impossible machines scorched down to their hulls or the fossilized skeletons of enormous arachnids.

Despite the vague menace emanating from these sculptures, it is clear that Corbett remains transfixed by the play of lines. As a viewer circles these objects, the overlapping shafts take on shifting configurations, bisecting one another at different angles and creating slippery grids of shapes.

Mostly, he sticks to restricted palettes — luscious black, drab grays — that let the work’s strengths shine. In the obsidian-colored “Tower” (2010), it’s easy to concentrate on its formal attributes: slender helix-twists rising up from a hexagonal base and a thick, lumpy skin of wood filler that calls to mind dried sap.

By contrast, two sculptures, “Space Junk” (2010) and “Star” (2008), are painted with spatters of bright gold, green and red that distract from their sparse yet complex contours and inject an air of lightness at odds with such enigmatic forms.
In contrast to Corbett’s darker sculptures, the busy chromatic treatments reveal the presence of the artist in a way that ends the pleasant daydream that these strange objects somehow materialized on their own.

The show runs through Nov. 20.

Linfield Fine Art Gallery, Miller Fine Arts Center, 900 Baker St., McMinnville, (503) 883-2804; 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Mondays – Fridays, Noon – 5 p.m. Saturdays; closes Nov. 20; free

Story reprinted from The Oregonian

Review by

Art studies at Linfield College