Jan 26 – Mar 10, 2012
A rare sculptor amongst his notable painting peers from the 1950s and 1960s Abstract Expressionist and Bay Area Figurative movements, Manuel Neri has long been considered a pre-eminent American sculptor. A student of celebrated abstract painters Mark Rothko and Frank Lobdell, Neri’s six-decade dialogue with the human form as subject – on paper, in plaster or in clay with select bronze castings – embodies the equilibrium between the process of construction and destruction; disintegration and creation. The compelling individual figures each evoke a sense of a universalized existential vulnerability that for Neri represents the human condition. With distinguishing surface textures – the lingering marks of the artist’s hand – each work captures Neri’s recognizable, enthusiastic gestural expressionism. While Neri’s signature surface characteristics were influenced by AB EX, the Bay Area Figurative movement was born out of both the attraction to and rejection of Abstract Expressionism’s stance toward referential forms. In Neri’s case, figural imagery is his primary vehicle for abstraction – intentionally absent of any one person’s identifying characteristics. Neri’s unwavering devotion to the possibilities of abstraction reflects the essential zeitgeist of the mid-1940s and 50s era which remains a paramount influence in the art world today.