Magazine article Artforum International

Vincent Fecteau. (Reviews: Berkeley, CA)

Magazine article Artforum International

Vincent Fecteau. (Reviews: Berkeley, CA)

Article excerpt

BERKELEY ART MUSEUM

Vincent Fecteau's modest-scale sculptures have always exuded a curiously mixed vibe: They're inviting because of their arts-and-crafts materials yet repellent because of their open, even defiant expression of creative anxiety. The artist's first solo museum exhibition, which took place as part of the Berkeley Art Museum's "Matrix" series before traveling to the Pasadena Museum of California Art, included thirteen of these untitled pieces. As the largest collection of his work assembled by an art institution to date, the show had an unexpected graciousness, but the sculptures still conjured a host of enigmatic associations, with implied narratives and formal tensions embedded in their flatly painted veneers.

Fecteau finished all the pieces in 2001 or 2002, but, as pointed out by curator Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, his creative process often spans many years preceding a work's completion. That back story informs the thorny delicacy of these sculptures, which might initially seem tossed off or unfinished amalgamations of papiermache, Popsicle sticks, foamcore, and the like. The color schemes are basic--gray browns, matte blacks, muted natural tones--and some are smoothly applied, while others betray painterly traces of drips and brushstrokes. But on close examination, there's a clear sense of exactitude to the artist's activities, an angst-ridden mixture of plotting, tearing down, destroying, and reworking. This discord between intention and apparent accident is no small part of the work's appeal. Fecteau purposefully deceives his audiences. His three-dimensional collages invariably suggest things they are not: What looks solid is really made of cardboard; what looks like metal is brushstrokes on newspaper; what look s useful is totally nonfunctional. Fecteau's sculptures are delicate, lovingly crafted works masquerading as clunky craft projects. …

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