The SOFA Exposition at New York’s Park Avenue Armory provides a showcase for 60 galleries specializing in contemporary art made from what used to be known as "craft material" (glass, ceramic, fibers, metals, wood) – and a few of these galleries are actually selling sofas.
Great craftsmanship is now a "given" as the issues of manipulating these materials have long been resolved. Much of the work is idea based, although some is purely about craftsmanship and decorative beauty. While the show’s focus is on contemporary sculpture, there is a significant overview of what’s happening in the world of art furniture and jewelry.
The show’s centerpiece is a monumental ten-foot glass angel. Cast in Prague by Professor Stanislav Libensky and his lifelong partner Jiraslova Brychtova, the cubist sculptors have added a fourth dimension as light moves through the glass form and creates an internal image of an angel. Libensky/Brychtova have spent their careers dealing with issues of form and light. With this series, "In the Presence Of Angels", they resolve their elegant, powerful exploration of man’s relationship with God.
In stark contrast, Sergei Isupov’s autobiographical painted clay sculpture, laden with iconography the viewer is challenged to decode, deals with issues of sexual power and the artist’s animal nature.
John McQueen’s "Pinnacle Man" is a four-foot self-portrait made from tied willow and mud. McQueen makes elegant, complex sculpture from inelegant, simple materials that he finds in the woods. Defined by its negative space, the artist celebrates his simple roots at the peak of his career.
Though formally trained as a painter, Therman Statom is best known for his exuberant plate glass museum installations and large public constructions. Statom builds worlds within plate glass houses, some monumental (often built with the help of the local community), some intimate. References to installations he constructed at the Toledo Museum of Art, where he "enhanced" some of the Museum’s masterpieces, abound.
Sculpture, jewelry, furniture, tapestry, turned wood, beadwork – SOFA is a feast for the eye.