Art isn't well served in reproductions. You generally get what it looks like but not what it is. Subtle and/or dimensional art suffers the most.
Dominique Labauvie's sculpture is an example. It looks so simple, too simple, in photographs. It isn't. To understand why, you have to walk around the pieces. At every stop, you see them differently. Look up close and you see the texture of the metal, the seams created when forms are attached to each other. You compare the roughness of the material with the sleek elegance wrought from rigorous editing. You follow the line, which is everything in these works.
They're gathered under the title "Four Sculptures for a Garden" and at some point, I would love to see them in a garden setting. For now, three of them are positioned in the lobby and one on the terrace of the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art. The first three are recent, created between 2012 and 2013. Angelico, on the terrace, is more than a decade older, and what a difference. It's all swoops and loops. Abstract, yes, but in it are vestigial forms suggesting winged angels. They presage the nascent, pure abstractions of the more recent pieces,Starblade, Campus Stellae and Venus Walks. The soft curves resolve into sharp, defined parallelograms in Starblade and Campus Stellae. The connection between Angelico and Venus Walks is even more pronounced, and we see how the artist has pared down and refined the line. Matisse made a similar reductive journey in his drawings.
Four prints Labauvie made in collaboration with his wife, master printer Erika Schneider, are also part of the exhibition. They, too, explore form but are lush compared to the sculpture, printed on shimmering Goyo, a tissue-thin handmade paper.
This is a small show but a fine example of presenting an artist's essential concerns and how they develop over time. It helps that Labauvie understands that imperative. This is the show's final week, so go now.
Also worth a visit is St. Petersburg College's art faculty show, with 16 artists working in a variety of media.
Lennie Bennett can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8293.
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Dominique Labauvie: Four Sculptures for a Garden
The exhibition is at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, 600 Klosterman Road, on the Tarpon Springs campus of St. Petersburg College, through April 20. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday; and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $6 adults, $5 seniors, free for students with ID, children and active military. Free Sunday (suggested donation is $5). spcollege.edu/museum or (727) 712-5762.