There seems to be a trend in current artistic practice which has to do with hanging broken-up elements by nylon wire from the ceiling. But just because, say, Cornelia Parker has done something similar, and done it well, should the technique be considered off-limits to other artists? (It's a good thing painting was invented a long time ago.) Chronologically speaking, Yoshiyuki Miura, a 42-year-old Japanese artist who now lives in Germany, has been involved with hanging multiple shards of shattered granite since 1989 (about the same time Parker started hanging silver), and the result is restrained yet gorgeous--as well as magical, because the components don't reveal themselves at first glance; all one is aware of is the atmosphere and a ghostly, seemingly two-dimensional form whose depth comes into focus only on closer view.
In the entrance room of Miura's exhibition at von Lintel & Nusser, his first in New York, the myriad small stone pieces were suspended from the ceiling at precisely measured lengths so as to give the appearance of a 31-foot-long triangular plane, tilted to run from floor to ceiling, which enclosed the corner of the room like a giant spider's web. Although the black shards were spaced evenly, the perception was one of clusters at the far corners. The piece created a hovering sense of stillness that was only heightened by the occasional motion of the shards, which, when caught by imperceptible breezes caused by movement in the room, would revolve lazily. The experience included light--reflections from glistening mica in the stone or the occasional polished surface as well as bouncing off the forest of vertical translucent threads.
There was also a satisfying pattern in the army of white painted cup hooks to which the threads were attached, which marched across the ceiling. Accompanying this piece were two elegant horizontal framed works consisting of countless grains of rice (thousands, it turns out) that the artist had painstakingly affixed on their tips to the inside of the frontal glass, to cast a grid of tiny shadows on the paper behind.
The installation in the second room was similar to the first, but now the floating granite shards were configured into a shallow cone. Fifteen feet across, it hung from the ceiling like a giant chandelier, with the stones reaching their lowest point at the center and the middle stone hovering, somewhat ominously, just above head height. The irony, of course, is that Miura uses granite, whose very name symbolizes solidity and heaviness, to create a veil-like illusion of weightlessness that puts this work more in the company of Irwin's scrim pieces, or the airy geometry Sandback draws with stretched yarn, than that of traditional sculptural wielders of stone. Yet in its austerity and deliberately contemplative nature, Miura's work is decidedly Japanese and constitutes a deft marriage between Eastern esthetic and Western concept.
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