Minoru Niizuma is a long-established Japanese stone sculptor who works in the traditional modernist manner. In a group of recent black granite pieces, he contrasts polished and rough textures and makes shapes that veer gently away from strictly geometric formats. The work possesses an authoritative ease and simplicity, and an aura of gentle surprise.
“Nest” is a serene, wide U-shape roughed up on the inside and nibbled away on one supporting leg with of the arc-like indentations Niizuma favors in a number of his pieces. In “Black Mountain,” a grooved drum-shaped piece of rock perches, temple-like, at the edge an irregular rectangular block. “Cloud” is a column pierced in two directions by circular tunnels with textured inner walls.
“Alpi,” a stack of horizontal, bracket-like and E-shaped smooth granite pieces interspersed with passages of roughened stone, looks rather like a swatch of Japanese calligraphy stood on one end. A similar grave playfulness infuses “Ruined Castle,” an upside-down U lying down, with one “leg” hoisted up by a wedge of roughened stone and barnacles of unpolished stone adhering to its sides. But Niizuma’s most recent piece, “Silent Sea II"--a bandanna-shaped hunk with deep vertical gouges striping its rear side--is the most reticent and cryptic of the lot. (Mekler Gallery, 651 N. La Cienega Blvd., to April 15.)