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Amy Giovanna Rinaldi‘s sculptures look like they’re frozen mid-metamorphosis. Some seem to be falling apart; others could be about to burst, their twine binding and textile sheaths pulled taught. Where her earlier works favored gleaming black and red exteriors that heightened the underlying shapes’ sexual suggestiveness, her latest pieces, currently on view at Brooklyn’s Sushi Bar Gallery, are more ambiguous and muted. Their abstractness draws the viewer closer to take in the details — the gooey enamel and melted vinyl, the fraying string, the scrunched silk, linen, and leather. There’s a more formal kind of pleasure at play here that comes from concealment.
The three largest pieces in the gallery (a white-walled alcove carved from conceptual artist Maayan Strauss‘s Gowanus studio) have thick black enamel and melted vinyl either spilling across colorful ripples or bubbling up between swaths of white fabric. There’s a forlorn quality to these objects that makes them look like they could have washed up on a beach after an oil spill. But there’s also a great deal of precision in the work, and Rinaldi is careful to neither reveal nor dissimulate too much of how the pieces are actually put together.
Among the smaller works, which are installed at irregular intervals and heights on an adjacent wall, twine is the dominant material. Rinaldi’s use of string to both bind objects together and conceal them evokes the sculptures of Judith Scott currently on view at the Brooklyn Museum. A small and narrow piece that manages that uniquely Bourgeoisian feat of being simultaneously phallic and vaginal has straps, is soaked in black paint, and still lets some flickers of red fabric peek through. A square sculpture doused in a hue of paint that falls somewhere between camouflage brown and olive green has thickly wound balls of twine seemingly tearing through a spandex shell, while the heads of nails push suggestively against the surface. Maybe these works are more sexually charged than I thought.
Beyond all the dirty and sensuous sculptures, the exhibition’s most pristine piece is installed on a brick wall covered in flaking white paint that makes its drapery of gleaming white textiles appear all the more pure. It seems to foreshadow yet another formal departure for Rinaldi, another body of work whose suggestive shapes she will call attention to, cover up, tear open, and splatter. This hint of things that may be to come, along with the smaller, subtler pieces and the trio of big, drippy sculptures, make this an eminently satisfying exhibition. The artworks all show signs of inner life while calling attention to the play of layers and textures across their seductive surfaces.
Amy Giovanna Rinaldi’s New Objects continues at Sushi Bar Gallery (62 18th Street, Gowanus, Brooklyn) through March 14.