Gerald Coble
Battenville (Greenwich), NY 12834
Home | Next | email
Greenwich info/map
Wash Co info

Small Monuments

Collection of small monuments

Passenger 1, 2, & 3 and Untitled

Ligeti
Ligeti
2007
Untitled 1
Untitled 1
2007
Untitled 2
Untitled 2
2007
Island
Island
2007
Untitled 3
Untitled 3
2007
Untitled 4
Untitled 4
2007
Untitled 5
Untitled 5
2007
Untitled 6
Untitled 6
2007
Untitled 7
Untitled 7
2007
Untitled 8
Untitled 8
2007
Rez
Rez
wood/gesso - 2008
30 x 10 x 52
 

An unedited essay from Main Street:

Old Light on a Battenkill Landscape

by Roy Arenella

Sculptures --or sculpture-like "constructions"-- are new to Gerald Coble's work; but this Summer 18 of them are settled-in, very much at home on the deck of his place in Battenville, NY. Coble --an artist known for work in collage, drawing and painting, with examples in private holdings here & in Europe, including the permanent collection of MoMA in New York City —Has created 18 "Small Monuments" now on display adjacent to his home on a slope above the Battenkill River. Though that river runs through much of his previous work, I find no direct references to it in the new sculpture. The choice to set his latest work outdoors, with the river as backdrop, enables Coble to connect it in an aesthetic continuum to his earlier concerns. To make things connect & continue is characteristic of the classical temperament.

Arranged open to the sun these 18 pieces are monuments, not to public occasions, but to personal moments. As such they undoubtedly hide privately coded meanings. Nevertheless, I find them not only accessible, but open & inviting.

Public monuments often stand on ideological pedestals: monuments to war heroes, to war itself; to great men and women; or in honor of homely truisms. One steps back & looks up at them. In comparison to grand, public statements Coble's pieces are "small" (none taller than you): one walks among them, musingly. No didactic intent intrudes on the pleasures of merely looking. Monuments at your feet don't feel monumental, so there is no overwhelming awe to distract you from their quiet presence.

Most of the new work, labeled by Coble as "constructions, but called "sculpture" in conversation, has a base or pedestal, and stands as traditional sculpture is expected to. Some are low-to-the-ground and feel "put together", made from material one might find around old barns, or on a pile of scrap wood. Coble also (sparingly) uses wooden objects bought cheaply at hobby or craft shops. Nothing is precious or crafted with professional carpentry skills.

Nor are these objects presented as crude material per se, or as armatures for making aesthetic statements from waste material. Though the pun is tempting, one could never say that this work was "cobbled" together, California funk style. There is no sense of the haphazard.

Yet, these objects would be out of place in a crafts show, because they are competently home-made, with no reach after professional dazzle. The style of the handiwork employed fits the piece at hand. Some have a rough charm, ("Moon", "Ligeti" and the toy sailboat, "Untitled No.10"). While "Untitled No.16" is built like a fortress wall and is off-putting. White paint, brushed-on heavily throughout, nominally unites the surfaces of these 18 pieces into a perceived theme.

I have seen Coble's constructions both indoors & outside. In brilliant light the statue-like among them reflect hard sunlight from their white surfaces creating a haloed aura, giving them the appearance of live presences. In the subtler light of a cloud-covered day the swirls & ridges of thickish, white paint reflect back varying lights and shades which can be seen but not adequately described.

In thinking about the light, I began more clearly to understand this new work as I watched it develop over the past year in Coble's studio. Behind the modest, sometimes offhanded presentation of each new piece, I sensed his desire (defiantly unstated) to make a world of, about and for these pieces.

For artists since Monet, working in series has been a commonplace strategy. So too for craftspeople. Art in series often means work turned out with the simple sense of one thing following another, logistically, logically. This permits artists to hang new themes on convenient marketing pegs, a gimmick much like advertising slogans. Some serial work, motivated by a deeper inner necessity, springs from a generative poetic concept, breeding one work after another; all of it of a piece: a sustained world.

For Coble, this world is Mediterranean: light-filled (on sunny days!), near water, and encrusted with time. In the checklist of titles I find some with ancient references and reverberations, among them "Island", " Trapani" (a Sicilian city), "Apollo" and "Moon". Among the untitled works we find a boat, a hand cart and 3 architectural columns --all of which say Mediterranean to me. "Mirror", one of the strongest, most direct works in this exhibition, can be looked through like a window which overlooks a garden behind and below the deck. This reminds me of one theory of "landscape" which places its origins in the view from an amphitheater in Sicily.

In fact, along with "light", the idea of "landscape" may be another clue or key word in understanding the small monuments in this exhibit. Going out into that garden & looking back, through the "Mirror" at all the work arranged beyond it, makes of the deck a kind of landscape into which sculptures are placed. There, framed by a window, Coble's white objects come to rest and resolution, at home in a world of classical allusions.

small monuments

Roy Arenella is a photographer & mail artist living in Greenwich , NY.

Gerald Coble
Battenville (Greenwich), NY 12834
Home | Next | email
Greenwich info/map
Wash Co info

© all rights reserved
Designed by
KC Consulting