3/05/10 5:03 PM
If Henry Moore’s monumental abstracted bodies were scaled down and slouchy, his sculptures might nestle up nicely next J. David Mitchell’s. Smooth and curvilinear, bodily yet not, Mitchell’s limestone and walnut pieces speak a mid-century sculptural language that would get them a wink, wink and a nudge, nudge from the master of granite forms. Sculptural practice has of course gone a ways since the days of Moore, moving further and further from the permanence of stone and the specialty of stone carving, ironically toward the ephemerality of found objects, assemblage and installation. Mitchell rigorously, firmly rejects these developments, insisting instead on sculpture as monument, on abstract form as meaningful, on stone and the labor it takes to carve it as worthy material and gesture. For Mitchell making work this way is a means of expressing a generation, the generation of today, an unexpected pronouncement from an artist so devoted to the language of yesteryear. Understood in terms of a rejection of today’s throwaway culture and as an embrace of the knowledgeably retro, it all makes a kind of sense, if only one that looks backward in order to go forward.