Visual Art

Fine Lookin' Piece: Diana Al-Hadid's "Gradiva's Fourth Wall" at the Nasher

It was pretty damn magical Friday night in the Arts District. The galleries were open late and light, video, and sound installations of one kind and another dotted the streets as part of Aurora. The Nasher hosted the final 'Til Midnight of the season with The Bright playing on the stage and the original Tron playing on the screen.

And just down the hall from the Nasher Café sat the inspiration for this week's FLP, Diana Al-Hadid's "Gradiva's Fourth Wall." The piece is part of the Nasher's Sightings, "a new series of small-scale exhibitions and installations that explore work by established and emerging contemporary sculptors."

The piece is made of steel, polymer gypsum, wood, fiberglass, and paint. But it looks as if it sprang from miles of fabric and a zillion shapes crafted from cardboard with oddly shaped holes cut into them. There are colors mixed and muted and random on the layered pieces, which are all gluey and glossy and glazed.

Layers and layers of the cut-outs form levels and a lake of sorts is revealed on top of which is a platform with treelike figures all around looking as if they are covered in Spanish moss. And in the center of it all, the vision of a body draped across a divan. Only there is no body and no divan, only the suggestion of both.

All of it seems to be floating. It's architectural, ethereal, masterful. You want desperately to touch it, knowing it must be hard, but imagining it soft. Gazing at the voluminous fabric that pools and drapes and hangs, you fight an inspired urge to climb the impossibility and faint back into the scene, as classical as it is wholly new.

See Sightings: Diana Al-Hadid through January 15, 2012 at the Nasher Sculpture Center.

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