It's not glitzy, sarcastically poppish or compulsively
photographic. Rather, Albert LaVergne's figure sculpture at Governors
State University gallery embodies a straightforward personal
approach to figurative sculpture.
Only a handful of ultra-realists like Duane Hansen and Peter
Del Andrea with nearly photographic goosebump and varicose vien
detail have been prominent among figurative sculptors. While
their signature realism is initially disarming, it leaves little
to viewer imagination and even less room for future expansion
of concept by either originator or follower.
Beyond such blind alleys, few proponents of serious figurative
sculpture have prospered. LaVergne's metal works do offer a more
sensitive and formalized body of work that asks the audience
to relate to figure groups and body fragments.
How do these more generalized acrobat figures interrelate with
each other and with the audience? This less detailed format opens
the door for more individual symbolic interpretations and for
dynamic formal variations.
Remarkably, the Kalamazoo, Mich., artist jumps a
border between the mediums of fabricated steel and cast bronze
with enough dexterity
to create the same feeling in both. One must momentarily examine
the surfaces of the large welded/ground/buffed steel assemblies
to determine that they are not larger cast variations on the
pedestal bronzes. This is an unusually work-intensive approach
to welded steel sculpture.
In their directness, they are fresher
than the smaller bronzes because the artist's involvement with
the entire surface is evidenced
through process. "Acrobats", a composition of two large
figures, proudly bears the sculptor's grinding and buffing marks
almost as a calligraphy on the surface.
The delicate balance of the two figures in motion is most effective
in this piece. Were it not, the viewer might unconciously sense
that not only the depicted acrobats, but the actual sculpture,
might verge on toppling.
Very notably detailed and correct anatomy on the hands and feet
belie what is too often perceived as an awkward, stiff sculpture
medium - welded steel. Beyond that, the artist's concern for
orchestrating the open spaces between the physical figures remains
the real strength of the show.
In the smaller bronzes, presumably modeled in clay or wax before
being cast, the balance acquires a whip-like movement. More ambitious
and romantic in composition, bronzes like "Brotherhood" focus
attention to the overall elipses of flowing figures.
While these organic movements are exhilarating in
those figure groups, LaVergne better hones in on form in fragments
body. In pieces like "Hand # 2", "Foot" and "Swing," he
roams farther from anatomical restrictions into more personal
"Foot" and "Swing" particularly emphasize exciting
organic contours and masses that flow thicker and thinner, wind
spirals and balance against each other in very inviting compositions.
These are LaVergne's
real acrobats - the ones that almost take on a life and movement
of their own.
State University is located in University Park Illinois (west of
Crete and south of Park Forest) on Exchange Avenue. Gallery hours
are from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Fridays. For further
information, call (708) 534-5000, Ext. 2412.