Stately, but subtle with its yellow- and white-painted steel, Velas XII — inspired by the winsome sailboats breeze by Venice Beach — commands an appreciable space in the survey of artist Betty Gold’s sculptures and acrylic paintings at Gebert Gallery.
Her newest series, Velas reflects the sails’ grace and elegance in the simple, geometric fashion that has distinguished gold for 40 years.
At 76x24x12 inches, Velas XII invites more than imposes; the four beaming steel triangles that compose the sail offer a 360-degree experience. The sculpture gains its sense of movement from the inwardly angled pieces, each painted yellow on one side, white on the other.
Installed close to the gallery entrance, the piece signals a dynamic show ahead. They survey exhibition features sculptures from several series — most notably, Majestad, which honors the king and queen of Spain, and Tirón, inspired by the angular folds of a bullfighter’s cape. Gold started the Tirón sculptures in 1999 with a monumental installation for the city of Palma de Mallorca in Baleares, Spain. The U.S. Embassy in the Slovakian capital of Bratislava also commissioned a large piece from the series. Works from the Soller and M.A. (Mallorca) series also appear in the exhibition.
Gold revels in her transcendent, albeit ferociously physical process — from making paper models to splaying two-dimensional sheets of steel and reassembling them in three-dimensional forms. They appear simple, but on close examination reveal a complexity that bespeaks the artist’s intense organization and exacting process.
A willowy former beauty pageant winner with jet-black hair and a native Texas twang, Gold hardly seems the type to cut, weld, and grind Cor-Ten steel. Yet she emerged a bona fide pioneer in a male-dominated field and produced a gutsy body of work that spans four decades. This exhibition celebrates her work with a fine installation augmented with two new acrylic paintings on canvases and 10 more on handmade paper.
Whether two or three-dimensional, each piece contributes to an evenly curated show. Her work is often associated with the obscure MADI movement. The acronym MADI is something of a mystery. First articulated in 1946 by Uruguayan artist Carmelo Arden Quin, MADI could stand for four major art principles: movement, abstraction, dimension, and invention. Some say it stands for MAterialismo DIalectismo. Still others say the word, like Dada, was invented. Nevertheless, it landed Gold in movement retrospective at the Reina Sofia in Madrid, Spain in 1997.
The simplicity and sophistication of the geometry represents the dynamic and compelling nature of Gold’s work — bright, thoughtful, and jutting with endless possibilities.
- Steven Biller