Gloria Kisch: Fusion of Opposites

The first comprehensive survey of the artist, Gloria Kisch: Fusion of Opposites clearly chronicles Gloria Kisch’s works through four essays and images from her three major periods, divided by her time in Venice CA, SoHo, and the Hamptons. Titled from a review by late ARTnews critic Melinda Wortz, the publication highlights the opposite forces of primordial nature and urban life as present throughout the artist’s extensive career.

A foreword by Santa Barbara Museum of Art Chief Curator Ronald Andrew Kuchta situates Kisch within a naturalistic “spirit world” that is revisited during a pivotal 2002 move to 3Ponds, the artist’s current home, studio, and gallery space on a Long Island wildlife refuge. Recurring throughout the book’s essays are exotic influences gleaned through travels to foreign locations including Asia, the Amazon, and Africa, in addition to influences from the urban environments in which Kisch has spent the majority of her career. The second essay, “Upright… The Height and Depth of Gloria Kisch” by the late Arlene Raven, transports us to a cavernous basement in lower Manhattan that was the artists early studio during the 1960s. In Raven’s essay, the opposing forces already present in Kisch’s early career are likened to artists such as Robert Smithson and Nancy Graves, who used structured systems and sacramental sites to address contemporary life.

The sentiments reflected in each essay closely mirror the images in Gloria Kisch: Fusion of Opposites. The first section, “California 1967-1980,” opens with bold colors and striking geometries of an early tribal painting series. Following the black and white photographs of works from the other early paintings and sand sculpture, a colorful environments series begins the organic depictions that continue through Kisch’s more contemporary portfolio. The “SoHo New York” section opens with colorful sculptures created in the mid-1980s, followed by sculpture that is more typically in unpainted metal, up to 1996. A small sculpture series, from the period 1991–1995, and “Endangered Species 1993–1995” present us with animalistic, primeval depictions that are immediately contradicted by the following section, “Functional Sculpture 1989-2008,” which show sharp, architectural forms via benches, chairs, and other anthropomorphic creations. Fusing the two opposites are the following sections, showing her work of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

After the essay “Gloria Kisch in Six Dimensions,” by John Perreault, which boldly asserts Kisch as a unique sound sculptor, the final section, “3Ponds Riverhead,” includes views of Kisch’s outdoor sculpture, reminding the reader of Kuchta’s introductory foreword. Reading the next essay, “Onward and Upward: The Reeds of Gloria Kisch” by Suzanne Ramljak (former editor of Sculpture magazine), brings a greater understanding of the artists evolution, now informed by the book’s previous 150 pages. The last essayist in the book, Ramljak draws parallels between the series “Reeds” and the artist herself, both with an assertively determined underlying nature. Blatantly positive, “Reeds” assert bright expectations and a will to carry on.

Although there are later sections featuring several other related series, Ramljak’s consideration of the “Reeds” makes a natural conclusion to the publication, declaring Kisch as an artist who after an extensive career casts away contemporary trends in order to follow her own vision.

—Kara Kaczmarzyk

Book Description:
Gloria Kisch: Fusion of Opposites
by Gloria Kisch, Ronald Andrew Kuchta, Arlene Raven, John Perreault, and Suzanne Ramljak
216 pages, illustrated throughout, $50
American Image Books, 2009
ISBN: 1584181583

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