On Sculptures by Alex Bacon, 2018
The following is a descriptive text which was expanded in 2019 for the book, “Photographs of Sculptures”
Erik Lindman, for a long time active primarily as a painter, has recently expanded his practice to include sculpture. Lindman’s work has, almost since the beginning, involved found objects. He has an eye for materials that might engender a good painterly—and now sculptural—composition. Sometimes they have been included in paintings as compositional elements, while other times they are present only by implication, as a matrix through which an imprint is left, or a series of marks or gestures laid down and built up. In this way these materials do not overwhelm the work with their earlier non-art identities, as with the Duchampian legacy of the readymade, nor do they become fully subsumed into a pictorial logic, as with the Cubist tradition of collage. Rather, they are somewhere in-between, somehow both themselves, and willing actors in an aesthetic narrative.
Lindman’s sculpture is in many ways an extension of this practice. Most fundamentally it is a response to the artist’s desire to introduce multiple viewpoints into his work, something that arose from a response to certain of the materials he came across, which he thought might be limited by the two-dimensional plane of painting. Yet, the resulting sculptures very much betray a painterly eye. They present not so much a single, holistic object for our appreciation, but rather a sequential series of viewpoints, each both distinct but similar to the others, encouraging our movement around the work so as to compare one to the next. This is encouraged by the intimate, bodily scale of the works, which betray the handling involved in their making, and invite their display in a domestic context, such as on a table top.
Such a form of presentation, along with the tactile, haptic ways it is experienced, is suggested, art historically, by no less than Picasso in the welded steel sculpture he developed with the aid of Julio González, and which was extended in a post-war American context by David Smith. Yet, Lindman’s sculpture has none of the polished lines and looping organicism of Picasso and González, nor the blocky geometry of Smith’s later work. There is something immediately visceral, physical, and even a bit unsettling about Lindman’s aggregates of matter. He assembles pieces of wood, plastic, and metal with the help of copious amounts of paint and epoxy resin. This way of working not only roughens and obscures the contours of the sculpture, but also lends it a fibrous, bodily aspect, not unlike muscle tendons splayed open. This relates them to the recent paintings that Lindman has made alongside them, which share a linear network evocative of the web of lines in some of the sculptures. They have a bold, unsettling palette, juxtaposing brash colors like green and red, which relates to the deliberately off-putting pinks, taupes, and off-whites of the sculptures.
If Lindman’s sculpture has any precedent, the closest would be the sculpture of another artist who was primarily active as a painter: Cy Twombly. His work has a similar emphasis on the obdurate nature of materiality, but one that is reliant neither on the clean lines and holistic gestalt of minimalist objects or the controlled excesses of postminimalism. Twombly and Lindman share in common a mysterious evocation of something between a recognizable form and simply matter presented, inviting us to undertake a never-concluded investigation of what, exactly, is before us.
Princeton University Art Museum