Critically acclaimed artist Arlene Shechet specializes in creating fine, ceramic sculptures and continues to break ground with her latest show titled Turn up the Bass at Sikkema & Jenkins Co. in Chelsea.
Shechet’s latest body of work consists of intellectually stimulating pieces that take the viewer’s eye on an intriguing journey of new ways of looking at shape and form.
She examines relationships between subject and object, figuration and abstraction, color and form, and humor and pathos. One work that is a fine example of this is a four-and-a-half-foot tall sculpture titled The Body is an Ear which highlights architecture, figure, costume, and 18th-century furniture, paying homage to artists such as Constantin Brancusi, Marisol Escobar, and Sophie Taeuber-Arp.
The piece resembles the figure of a woman wearing a white, wooden skirt, with a wooden peg beneath with representing a leg, a white square block representing a blouse and a woman’s chest, a thick, elongated wooden block representing her from the neck up and her long hair, topped with a black, rounded steel piece with leopard skin spots representing a stylish hat.
Two other intriguing pieces both titled I Saw the 18th Century illustrate a painting represented by a wooden canvas in both cases that feature carved, circular designs and other colorful geometric shapes resting on an easel. On top of the body of the painting is a wooden circle, perhaps representing the head of a human or other living creature, the painting representing the body, and the legs of the easel representing legs.
Some of the works in the show also represent companionship and duality. One installation titled Plus One features a lopsided block of wood, with a glazed ceramic part coming out of the side like an arm presenting a round, gray piece of wood. Meanwhile, a mass of dark red clay shaped like a giant sewing thimble rests on a round, flat, black plate that’s balancing on the lopsided wood.
Similarly, Jewel & Peg Leg are an Item features a colorful, wooden piece in the shape of a diamond or a gem, topped with a blue, glazed ceramic design while right beside it is another painted wooden piece balancing on a pink pad of clay on one side and a peg leg on the other with a dark pink triangular flap rising to the surface.
Another work that conveys the notion of balance is Full On which depicts a block of wood with black, yellow, lavender, and peach-colored triangular shapes painted onto it. The thick, black triangle sticks out and rises above the surface, and the piece sits atop sea-green colored clay on a block of white wood. Full On also includes light squiggles of platinum-gilded drawings representing worms.
Shechet’s work has been exhibited extensively in across the country and around the world.
Her work is in many public and private collections including The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum. Additionally, a collection of Meissen Porcelain chosen and installed by Shechet and including her own works well is currently on view in the exhibition No Simple Matter: Arlene Shechet and the Arnhold Collection at The Frick Collection through Apr. 2, 2017. Turn Up the Bass will be on view through Nov. 12. at Sikkema & Jenkins Co., 530 W. 22nd St. The gallery is open Tues.-Sat. from 10 a.m.—6 p.m.