Thursday, November 7, 2019

Van Buren’s Flights of Fantasy

From afar, Richard Van Buren’s fantastically futuristic sculptures look like they have been frozen mid-transformation between bird and machine. While shiny and robotic, each abstract tangle is reminiscent of limbs, wings, and beaks, twisting and jutting out in unexpected angles. Floor works such as Dervish I (2019) take on the shape of a large bird of prey, about to take flight at any moment. This impact is further heightened by the magnificent lighting scheme, which is especially exquisite on the wall pieces, such as Silver Lining (2019), a piece consisting of five separate forms spaced evenly on a wall. Lit from at least four different directions, each static form casts multiple shadows, which are surprisingly arresting as they layer over each other to create delightfully unexpected shapes. This bolsters the illusion that they are rotating or flying around in a flurry of energy. 

However, when you examine the organic forms closely, the synthetic nature of their materials is confirmed. Seductive swirls of metallic pigments, glitter, beads, and tinsel are suspended in sleek resin forms, composed into arrangements on the wall or the floor. Unfortunately, the materials’ obvious origins in craft-store kitsch strip the works of their mystery. Though it is a pleasant experience to explore the layers of texture and transparency, ultimately the works are more compelling from a distance. 


  1. Hi Caito,
    I love your writing. It it very descriptive! As I read it, I feel like I am walking through the exhibition. The one thing I am concerned about is “skillful experimentations” from the last sentence. I agree with the word, “skillful” to describe his artworks. He definitely knows how to use resin, but “experimentations” would be used for beginners or artists who just start using new materials to make art pieces. Are his artworks newly made recently? Or does he mention “experimentations” in his artist statement? If he does, I think your words can be written as they are now, but if he does not, I want you to clarify, expand, or maybe change the word?
    Other than that, the writing is very clear and well-written!

  2. Hi Caito,

    I really enjoyed reading your review, I had completely forgotten about this show and your writing brought it back so vividly.

    Just a few notes:
    At the beginning of the review you mention how the art-object resembles a hybrid of machine and animal, when you are clearly describing a machine and bird situation. Using "animal" seems too broad.
    Also towards the end you write "While the use of the objects suspended in resin is questionable", but why is it questionable? Did you not like it? Were they not as strong as the pieces on the wall?

    Overall, I think you have done a great job walking us through the exhibit and focusing on some key elements.1