NEW YORK David Rabinowitch Peter Blum Gallery
March 1, 2008
For many years, the Canadian sculptor David Rabinowitch has been working with essential form, the basic elements by which non-objective structure is built. These elements may include material mass, planar relationships, optical force, volumetric density, and gravity. For Rabinowitch, Russian Suprematist and Constructivist models -- ranging from Malevich to Rodehenico -- offered an important source for his work. But there have been other significant and intervening influences as well, including the Constructi-vists in Poland, such as Kataryna Kobro, Wladyslaw Strzeminski, and Henryk Stazewski, who emerged between the two World Wars.
Having visiting Poland on numerous occasions, most notably as a participant in the legendary "Construction in Process" exhibitions, both during and after martial law was declared in 1981, Rabinowitch is fully aware of these artists and the aesthetic tradition they represent.
In a modest, but impeccably displayed exhibition of early works, "David Rabinowitch: PhantomGroup, Sculptures and Works on Paper from 1967," viewers were given another important glimmer of the artist's work during the '60s. In the recent past, Blum has presented other exhibitions of Rabin-owitch's work from this decade, including the "Box Trough Assemblages" from 1963, the "Gravitational Vehicles" from 1965, and the "Wood Constructions" from 1966. Categorizing Rabinowitch is not easy. His work is clearly related to Minimalism, but it comes from a slightly different angle than most American examples. While the sculpture included in the "Phantom Group" lays more or less flat on the floor (or sometimes on table tops), it does not have the pragmatic, matter-of-fact, grid-like appearance of Carl Andre's floor pieces, nor does it have the upended tension and balance associated with the early prop pieces of Richard Serra
Rabinowitch evolved according to his own trajectory. His drawings of oblong planes, partially derived from conical sections, were later manipulated into planar objects, which were cut and scored on painted cardboard. The cardboard models would later become the basis of the cut and bent metal forms, some of which were fabricated only recently. The "Phantom" series is less about parts in relation to the whole than the aggregate of planar relationships as three dimensions are pressed into a floor relief. They are, in fact, taunting objects -- delicate and masterful, poetic and insightful. They suggest that the concept for Rabinowitch was not simply form as composition, but the process of how we think about sculpture, that is, how the evidence of a slightly raised and articulated two-dimensional relief -- placed flat on the floor or table -- becomes the flattened phantom of a three-dimensional trace of space, time, architectonics, and memory. - ROBERT C. MORGAN