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30 Jun, 2009

Lost in triangulation

Posted by: admin In: Guardian

At their best, Eva Rothschild’s sculptures have an otherness and cool humour. Her sideways glances at 1960s abstract sculpture are wedded to a calculated and eccentric use of form. Cold Corners has none of this magic.

Maybe something got lost in the translation from idea to full-sized, factory-fabricated sculpture. Rothschild’s triangles form a relay, the corner of one touching the next. At one end, a triangle stands upright on its longest side, as if to bar the way. From here they perform an acrobatic routine, flipping and tumbling till the last falls flat on its face almost 80 metres away, as though it were milking the audience for applause.

I looked for a geometric progression, but there isn’t one. I yearned for the lightness, rigour and hedonism of Brazilian constructivist sculpture in the 1960s. There’s more clutter than delight here, with two exceptions: when one triangle embraces a column without touching it, and when JM Whistler’s 1872-5 painting Nocturne: Blue and Gold – Old Battersea Bridge appears from across the gallery, through the framing V of a triangle.

As her forms pass over the arches supporting the neoclassical cupola in the middle of the Duveen, you can see obtrusive brackets high overhead, fixing the work in place. Any sense of elation, poise and danger disappears. Certain points at which the triangles join are also too fussy.

Rothschild aims for a sense of weightlessness and pace, expansiveness and drive. She has tried to get to parts of the Duveen other sculptures don’t reach, but it feels like a strain.

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