Robin Peck “Crania”


poster for Robin Peck “Crania”

This event has ended.

CANADA presents Crania, new sculpture by Robin Peck.

Since the late 1960s Peck has been a contributor to the traditions of minimalism, post-minimalism and conceptualism. His work has served as a guardian of that legacy if only reluctantly, ambivalently so. Peck’s new Crania series, at first glance may appear to signal a departure. Outward appearance, in this instance, can be deceiving. The Crania series expounds upon this history and extends to embrace the artist’s encyclopedic knowledge of and interest in the history of sculpture.

We encounter twelve modest-size, apparently plaster sculptural pedestal objects. Their lumpen forms and paucity of adornment could hardly be thought of as immediately visually dynamic: no grand gestures, no appendages. Some are ovoid and feminine, others more attenuated, vertical and phallic. Numbers of viewers will be able to make neither head nor tail of this work. What are we to make of these offerings?

The sculpture titles offer a pathway. They indicate that the Crania sculptures are built up in circumferential layers of various armature materials, then measured and weighed; as one example, at the core: lead, encased successively by iron, aluminum, steel, plaster, hydrocal, shellac, then wax. Its outer shell guards the secret of the process of modeling, carving, cold-forging, hammering and molding beneath its skin.

While Duchamp’s With Hidden Noise (1916) asked of us ‘can you keep a secret? “, Robert Morris’ Box with the Sound of its Own Making (1961) offered self-referential full disclosure. Peck wants us to unfold conceptually the stages of the germination of the final form and to take pleasure at contemplating this mystery. It is only this that justifies the manic, masochistic expenditure of futile lost labour, a penance paid. But a sacrifice to whom? I cannot assure that the outward form is governed by these series of buried actions. For all I actually know, the sculptures might be hollow or a solid mound of poured plaster; perhaps they do not entail these listed steps or ingredients. I must take his attestation upon faith that his declaration is sine cera (“without wax”).

Peck’s art is one of connotation versus denotation. The series title, Crania sends us rushing in certain directions: from heads, skulls, helmets, hats and ‘alas poor Yorick’ to thoughts of memento mori, mortality and death: sculpture as the grand funerary memorial marker. Intriguing as this may be, it is ultimately unsatisfying. A skull, a skull cup are empty, devoid of matter; the Crania sculptures are the inverse, replete with materials, measured mass and weight. They are elemental, alchemical: a time capsule encasing a primer of classic sculptural materials. Are they burial mounds encasing dead, inert matter? Are we talking entombment versus resurrection, mummification or procreation, tomb/womb, stillborn/reborn?

And so back to the surface. This body of work marks a transition from the formality of Brancusi egg-shapes and Judd’s industrially produced, geometric unitary minimalist sculptural objects to reference another giant modern force: Henry Moore and the post- WWII neo-romantic artists and their infatuation with humanism and past mythic, geologic time. The Crania sculptures are after all forged by hand, they bear the textural scarifications, striations, hand modelling and honey patination akin to that which we have admired in Moore, Turnbull, Armitage and their generation. Can you move forward by moving back? Peck’s fecund sculptures proffer a regeneration of art and sculpture by starting again at the very beginning, with the first flowering of a fragile seed.

Jeffrey Spalding, February 2015



from February 21, 2015 to March 29, 2015

Opening Reception on 2015-02-21 from 18:00 to 20:00


Robin Peck

  • Facebook


    All content on this site is © their respective owner(s).
    New York Art Beat (2008) - About - Contact - Privacy - Terms of Use