Melvile Library Gallery, Stony Brook University, September 21 – October 1, 2006
‘Corrosion’ is a great title for this show of recent sculpture by Alton Falcone. Filling the gallery are a dozen sculptures of various sizes, some rest on the floor, or on a pedestal or shelf, and others hang from the wall or ceiling. The pieces are rusted, corroded, and many appear to be decaying where they sit. However, appearances can be deceiving. Upon close examination, Falcone’s pieces are sturdy, able to withstand a great deal of time and exposure to the elements. Some works are suitable for outdoor presentation, while others are destined to remain indoors. In the case of the outdoor works, one wonders what the pieces would look like standing in a yard, bathed in sunlight, overgrown with moss, or covered with dew. In embracing rust as a medium, Falcone finds brilliant color and sensuous form: we want to touch, to feel the rough embrace, the crystalline growth of rust on time-ravaged metal. Unfortunately, many of the works have protruding nails and sharp edges that make us reconsider our tactile desires and force us to keep a safe distance.
Several of the works resemble Paul Klee: ochre, umber and crimson boxes stacked seemingly at random, yet betraying a sense of conscious, calculated arrangement. Other works, like ‘Consonance’ and ‘Broken Obelisk’ recall vaginal and phallic forms, twisted and broken with sharp, serrated edges: the jagged opening in ‘Consonance’ attracts and repels, while ‘Broken Obelisk’ stands straight and tall, but only after being broken and pieced back together. Still others, like two untitled sculptures, appear to tell mythical tales. Medusa struggles to emerge from Perseus’ sack in an untitled hanging sculpture, but rather than turning viewers to stone, the twisted, jagged forms encourage us to wander around the sculpture, peer into the openings, curious to find out where and when the evil will escape. In another untitled sculpture, two figures stare at one another, as if preparing for battle: David cowers from Goliath, the tale of youthful power and innocence now aged, jaded and unsure of success against the imposing giant.
What do these works have in common? Well, leaving aside the obvious coloration and formal similarities, the works exhibit an awareness of time and recognition of the changes brought by age. What was once youthful and full of possibilities has now been replaced by the responsibilities of adulthood, irrevocably altered by the passage of time and the process of self-discovery. Yet in many of Falcone’s works, there is hope, as in ‘Construct #2’: brass covered by a moss-like growth of hot green crystals, suggesting that even from the hardest ground a little life may yet spring.
For more about Alton Falcone, and to view images of his current works, please visit his website.