“This group of sculptures,” wrote Steve Currie in the press release for this exhibition of works from 2011-12, “is about looking back in order to go forward.” The 18 pieces on view-wall-mounted, freestanding and ceiling-suspended-were based on drawings the Brooklyn-based artist made between seven and 15 years ago. Fashioned primarily of thin, malleable stainless-steel wire interspersed with colorful plastic tubing, the sculptures play with transparency and weightlessness at many different scales. In their very loose, open compositions (something of a departure for Currie) they truly register as improvisational drawings in space-light, delicate and dynamic.
Currie conjures a range of associations, sometimes with a boost from titles. Pulse, a two-part piece traversing a wall and straddling a corner, consists of stretches of wire punctuated by short sections of yellow tubing, making the network of lines appear to throb. Cast shadows accelerate the beat. Fishing stretched over an entire wall in a wide, open loop that shoots one tendril off, as if it has been cast. Intermittent tangles intimate the titular expedition gone hopelessly awry, and an oblong wooden component on the floor, to which the wires above are connected, suggests a bobber, lure and fish all at once.
Some of the most impressive sculptures were suspended in whole or in part from the ceiling. The coils of Loosestrife seem almost to emanate from a small clump of real plant roots on the floor, and extend all the way to the ceiling in a widening funnel shape, something like a column of smoke rising from a campfire. More roots are embedded near the top, like sparks. The work’s essential transparency, the result of its open wire composition, mutes its genuinely impressive scale and formal virtuosity. That quality of understatement was welcome throughout the show, along with the artist’s playful and canny deployment of deconstructed volume. Particularly lovely is the title piece, From an Old Drawing, a suspension of coils and strands in wire and blue, orange and white tubing, distributed sparingly as mere touches of chroma. Its linear pace reminiscent of drawings by Giacometti, the piece suggests a large head-but the absence of a clue in its naming is fine, and one almost wishes that the other titles were similarly noncommittal.
There were also quite a few-perhaps too many-small sculptures, adroit little wall-mounted sketches of sorts, with titles like Smoke, Cloud and Cirrus. The artist is obviously enjoying this heady excursion into evanescence.
Photo: Steve Currie: From an Old Drawing, 2012, stainless-steel wire, plastic tubing, 69 by 42 by 22 inches; at Elizabeth Harris.