When last we visited Kate Werble Gallery for one of sculptor Christopher Chiappa’s immersive exhibits, the place was covered wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling with Fried Eggs, and that was a good time. For his fourth exhibition at the gallery, Chiappa has installed in its front and back rooms two collections of what, on first glance, appear to be brightly colored, painted wooden tables. On closer examination, however, the at once familiar table shapes of Chiappa’s sculptures transmute and metamorphose into increasingly whimsical and delightful forms as you progress through the galleries. It’s a hoot.
With this show, Chiappa attempts a reset from past projects by returning to the most fundamental elements of abstraction: geometric shapes, solid colors, and line. His Compositions are made slowly, by hand; and his use of bright color serves to emphasize the assembly. The junctures between individual planes of wood are heightened by the sharp transitions in opposing colors and forms.
This one is my favorite. I think because of the Pink leg.
These works operate firmly within the gap of the simile. In color, shape, and temperament, they metabolize a succession of art historical reference points: Suprematism, Constructivism, Bauhaus, and Memphis Group. Like the Suprematists, for example, Chiappa uses the language of non-objective abstraction. However, instead of seeking to transcend the material world, he purposefully goes the wrong way around; he directs these forms back to the familiar.
As the tables become more abstract, you can play a fun game coming up with ideas of what the shapes remind you of.
In this one, the use of Orange and Purple reminds me of the Fed Ex logo!
This one reminds me of deconstructed version of a child’s Tricycle.
The Red Shape at the top of this one looks like a Fish trying to swim away. If you add in that Black Shape to the lower left, it could also be a Chicken.
In this, I see a group of friends of different races playing a game of One Potato Two Potato. See? Lots of fun. And I was by myself, so imagine how much more interesting it could be if you see the show with a friend.
Now lets check out the back room, where things get weirder.
Chiappa’s Compositions evolve without foreseen conclusion, evidence that repetition leads not to sameness but to difference. The early works remain closest to the basic form, and they gradually deviate further from the original. Though the parameters and materials remain the same, the final sculptures feel far removed from the first. The result is an autonomous object whose symbolic reference point has broken down altogether.
I see a big Target.
Look at all those Legs!
Compositions is a really fun exhibit, especially for fans of minimalists like Ellsworth Kelly and modern furniture design. And you still hove lots of time to check it out!
Christopher Chiappa’s Compositions Will be on Exhibit Through June 2nd, 2018 at Kate Werble Gallery, Located at 83 Vandam Street, Soho, NYC.