New York Times - ART IN REVIEW: Richard Van Buren

Originally Published: June 28, 2002

Show at: Mitchell Algus
511 West 25th Street

Richard Van Buren was included in the famous ''Primary Structures'' exhibition at the Jewish Museum in 1966. He had three solo shows at the legendary Bykert Gallery in that decade and three more at the Paula Cooper Gallery in the 70's. Since then, he has had only one Manhattan exhibition. The burden of history doesn't show in his new sculptures, however.

Made of lightweight, malleable thermoplastic and painted in slightly muted synthetic colors, these wall-mounted works have an insouciantly visceral materialism while giving the impression of exotic underwater structures, part botanical, part geological. It's easy to imagine tropical fish drifting in and around the complex interior hollows, created by agglomerations of shell-like cavities and taffylike tendrils of stretched plastic. There are granular surfaces like fish roe, too, punctuated by egglike blobs.

The art-historical background of these works stretches back to the erotically suggestive Post-Minimalist play with resinous materials of Eva Hesse, Linda Benglis and others. But they also have a kind of monstrous opulence that feels very much of the moment.