Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Charles Ray

"Father Figure" is an eight-foot man in green. He is the blown-up, perfect replica of a child's toy. "The New Beetle" is a life-sized boy in white (concealed in this picture is the fact that he is playing with a fire truck toy). These sculptures are placed across from each other at Ray's 2008 exhibition at New York's Whitney Museum.
I get the feeling that there's some clever message here, but I'm hesitant to analyze this message outright. There are strong indications in Ray's history that his sculpture is more about immediate reactions than hidden messages.
There is an immediacy to each unit of the display: the tractor is powerful and huge, the boy is white and beautiful, and the fire truck is small and cute. When I first saw them, I was shocked by their strangeness. Then, quickly, I saw a logic to them. They are balanced in a natural way: one small, one medium, one big; one white, one red, one green (opposite colors); two toys, one boy. The objects go with each other.
In this innovative exhibition, Ray expands the imagination with the new element of size/proportion, but he ties his work together with the familiar element of balance.

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