An exhibit of George Sugarman’s brilliantly colored aluminum sculpture will launch 2004 at the Washburn Gallery. The earliest Sugarman in this retrospective dates from 1977 and will be shown with eight other works, the most recent being from 1996. Sugarman’s flamboyant sculptures painted in highly saturated colors were first conceived in the 1960 s when minimalism was the dominant aesthetic fashion.
Carolyn Lanchner writes in an Introduction to the catalogue for the Sugarman exhibition at the Washburn Gallery:
In each piece color is structural, no more an accessory than it had been in 1965 when Sugarman defined its function: “. . . the color is as important as form and space. . . It is used to articulate the sculpture as much as form . . ..” In none of these pieces can the whole form be deduced from any single view-point. Their themes, continuity and change, are conceptual yet their abstract forms project a sense of motility that seems to spring from the natural world.
A Sugarman sculpture more often than not solicits quasi-anecdotal description, but the drama it enacts resists any naming other than with the gerund form of a verb. Looking at the objects in this exhibition in chronological order, their subjects might be subsiding, erupting, alighting, twisting, whirling, reaching, flying, unfolding, and watching - or perhaps others, depending both on the viewer’s psyche and the transformations and oppositions that become apparent as he or she moves around the work and light plays on its forms and colors.
An unregenerate enthusiast of twentieth century modernism’s faith in the unassisted power of the means of art to carry meaning, Sugarman ardently believed in the expressive ability of abstraction to transmute “the fullness of life” into art.