Magazine article Artforum International

Peter Rogiers: Roberts & Tilton

Magazine article Artforum International

Peter Rogiers: Roberts & Tilton

Article excerpt

Belgian artist Peter Rogiers titled his first US solo exhibition "Slag-room," using a word that, besides referring to the solidified impurities skimmed off molten metal during smelting, is also Dutch for "whipped cream." Indeed, Rogiers's recent sculpted figures are clotted-looking masses that seem barely to hold their shapes against the forces of gravity and motion, and while plastic was more prevalent than metal in this show, these curious forms suggest creatures that might have crawled from one of Vulcan's crucibles.

Modeled in buttery clay, Rogiers's figures take the rawness of Rodin to an extreme--everywhere we see the dragging of the artist's hand through the material. Cast in fiberglass, the sculptures are mounted on and in steel stands that double as supports and framing devices, making the works seem acrobatic and claustrophobic at once (and thus bringing to mind Francis Bacon's trapping of bodies in semipermeable, quasi-geometric cells). Add Hans Bellmer's penchant for dismemberment and other bodily distortions, Bernini's theatrical dynamism, and the gravitationally challenged anatomy of late Michelangelo, and you begin to get an idea of the ingredients that lie beneath the works' slick outer layer of uniformly colored epoxy and polyurethane.

Rogiers's talent lies here, in his ability to cull lessons in the handling of the figure in space from a broad-based history of painting and sculpture, and employ what he has learned in a practice both rich in tradition and refreshingly experimental. Consider, for example, a small study of a head inspired by Wes Craven's B-movie Swamp Thing, constructed by draping cotton fabric over an elaborate skeleton of steel rods and then saturating it with polyester resin, which signals a new direction in Rogiers's methodology. …

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