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Arthur Ganson: Kinetic Sculpture

Art New England, Feb/Mar 2008


McGowan Fine Art
Karl Drerup Gallery
Plymouth State University
Plymouth, New Hampshire
November 7, 2007 - January 4, 2008

By Craig Stockwell

There is something about a machine that is deeply reflective of our own condition. I watch these lovely sculptures working and I am overcome by a sad recognition of our own graceful and earnest movement that attempts to vigorously achieve great things but ultimately lead to nothing but a beautiful wearing down of parts. 

Machine with Artichoke Petal is a small machine (about 2 feet tall) made from a carefully crafted organization of metal arms, handcrafted gears, and an aged flywheel that turns ponderously. On top of the flywheel a dried artichoke petal is held by two metal arms in such a way that (penguin-like) it appears to walk slowly forward with bent head, forever. The delicate interchange of this single organic element upon the elaborate construction of metal is striking, its activity is heartbreaking. I am reminded of the work of Samuel Beckett and his line, “I can’t go on, I’ll go on.” Really. This very original work suggests such weighty parallels. 

The range of work and the ingenuity of construction are remarkable here. But what is even better is that a melancholic/comic human element predominates over the “Wow/Oh Gee” factor of these amazing machines. In other words, one can marvel at the machinery and the intricate craftsmanship and innovative mechanisms for solving the problems of movement and prolonged performance, but these machines each deliver image, metaphor, feeling and empathy first. 

Cory’s Yellow Chair presents a miniature, whole, yellow desk chair. The image of a single chair carries all kinds of associations for viewers, at its most basic a chair is the home, it can also represent a person, think of Van Gogh’s straw chair waiting for Gauguin to occupy it. Cory’s Chair might represent a home but, suddenly with a cracking noise, as the machine turns, the chair separates into a multitude of Sol Lewitt-like geometric forms in a circle in space. And then, crack again, the chair rejoins. Art can destroy and repair, in this work it all unfolds together. 

As with any strong art there is concept, order, and poetry here. If you are unable to see an exhibit of Ganson’s work I strongly suggest you seek out his web site to see the small films of his works in motion.