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LA CIENAGA AREA

John Newman’s large drawings of overlapping volumes in motion are so wonderfully free and physically beautiful that they make his sculpture look sadly earthbound and constricted. The same liberating ideas run through both groups of work, but they congeal so solidly in sculptural material that all the air is knocked out of them.

These lacquered and patinated aluminum or bronze wall pieces appear to be crosses between organic forms and mechanical devices. One thinks of everything from Matta’s swirling paintings to seed pods and machines-as-fetishes. Playing red against gray, matte against shiny and bumpy surfaces against smooth ones, Newman proves himself a deft technician. He also does a masterful job of three-dimensional composition, continuing lines through masses of bumps and hollows, contours and interstices. Like propellers--or giant flowers--the sculptures rotate around intricate centers. Their extensions seem to fill in the blanks between intersecting arcs of taut string designs or mechanical drawings. While this approach gives the sculptures a logical coherence it also makes them look like rather sterile translations. (Daniel Weinberg Gallery, 619 N. Almont Drive, to Oct. 5.)


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