STOCKBRIDGE, MA.- Martin Rosol came to the United States in 1988 to pursue a career as a glass sculptor, a path unavailable to him in his native Czechoslovakia before Vaclav Havel and the Velvet Revolution transformed the country. Rosols sculpturesworks of elegant design and craftsmanshipemerge from skilled and meticulous hands. Pieces are precisely cut from blocks of crystal, (some of which are sandblasted) then constructed in an architectural form designed to contain illumination. With a range of translucent and reflective surfaces artfully combined to create enclosed spaces, they are indeed monuments to light.
Pristine surfaces provide fields for light to play in the sculptures of Martin Rosol, a glass artist who makes looking a participatory and ever-changing experience. His formsfaceted like futuristic gemstonesare designed to maximize light, show off its myriad features, and captivate the viewer in an infinitely reflective and always evolving place. Rosol begins his architectural sculptures by cutting blocks of crystal and finishing the various sides with differing textures. Polishing creates ice-like surfaces while sandblasting results in a softer opaqueness. Areas of the glass are tinged with veneers of color that seem more prismatic illusion than real pigmentation. Finally, the parts are assembled in bifurcated geometric forms whose angles, intersections, and planes emanate with light and color. Solid bases rise into impossibly thin peaks and razor edges and dark areas give way to shimmering clarity.
In some ways, Rosol materializes the work of the California Light and Space group, artists such as James Turrell (b. 1943), who used light projections to impersonate physical space and who felt art was more about our perceptions than the objects being perceived. Though Rosol understands how optical illusion and shifting perspective can enhance seeing, he is still a glassmaker and lover of architecture who is fundamentally rooted in materiality. The elegant Luxor recalls the ancient Egyptian temple for which it is named but is a thoroughly futuristic envisioning of the earlier structure. Many Egyptian buildings employed illusionism, such as how the two obelisks flanking the entrance to the original Luxor Temple (one of which is now in the Place de la Concorde, Paris) seem to be, but are not in fact, the same height. Like the ancient temple, Rosols Luxor is a similarly cosmic monument, not to an ancient Egyptian deity but to light itself.
One of the characteristics of light that Rosol celebrates most is its duality. In Folia, a pair of tulip-like petals mirrors one anothereach petal square on one side and rounded on the other, with an elegant slice down the center. Like light itself, Folia is a masterpiece of complementary elements working togethersupple contours meet sharp edges, dark mustard meets canary yellow, finite space meets infinitely interconnected lines. Exquisite juxtapositions are also made in the shell-like Nautilus series. The cleaved spirals, plucked from a futuristic ocean, acquire triangular elements and semi-circular passageways that also emphasize the interplay of dark and light, hard and soft. The abstraction of form and primary color that Rosol uses in these and other works recalls Piet Mondrians (1872-1944) De Stijl paintings, but when writ in dimensional glass the shapes and colors sparkle with light, settle in geometric shadows, and change in focus as the viewer moves around.
In tribute to the multifaceted nature of seeing itself, each object is a symphony of fluctuating shapes and tones continually altered by the position of the viewer. The magic of Rosols work is the ultimately harmonious feeling of balance it provides: of light and dark, hard and soft, reality and perception, tension and ease, and solidity and ethereality. From certain perspectives the sculptures may appear as mere figments of lights imagination, but they are in fact the material creations of a master of his craft.
Schantz Galleries is proud to present an exhibition featuring works of three noted artists, Dan Dailey, John Kiley and Martin Rosol at SOFA NY April 19 - 22 at the Park Avenue Armory. The show, Nuance, Grace and Light will continue at the Stockbridge gallery through June 1.