ALAIN KIRILI: Belur (1984)
Closing Date23 October 2019
"Belur is inspired by the Temple of Belur in India. The sculpture and the Temple are connected through the art of incarnation, for they are both concerned with the body and the psyche. Belur functions as an abstract incarnation of the Hindu yonilinga––the curves of the work are a celebration of flesh and God, spiritual joy, and the art of enchantment." –– Alain Kirili
Concurrent with the exhibition Alain Kirili: Who's Afraid of Verticality? at the Gallery, this online presentation offers a concentrated look at the sculpture Belur (1984).
For five decades, French-American sculptor Alain Kirili has cultivated a practice that embeds a formalist rigor with a humanist warmth. In the words of critic Carter Ratcliff, "Forging, welding, cutting, hammering sheets and bars of metal, bending wire, and molding terra cotta––with each of these processes, Kirili finds in an inanimate matter a metaphor for flesh. Weighty or delicate, his objects have a commanding bodily presence. . ." A raw material tactility emerges from the hammered metal of Belur along with a diversity of aesthetic gesture that resists a machine-made uniformity, privileging the idiosyncratic.
Demonstrative of Alain Kirili’s lifelong fascination with verticality, Who's Afraid of Verticality? traces an investigation of the subject in abstract sculpture and exhibits a subtle drive for aesthetic diversity. Having traveled to India for the first time in 1977, Kirili's fascination with Hindu spiritual iconography has manifest in his work for the past four decades. His conception of the sculpture (or "vertical," as he refers to it) as being at one with the pedestal (or "base") reveals the influence of the yoni and lingam, Hindu feminine and masculine sculptural elements that harmoniously converge in a symbiotic relationship, on the artist's process. The oftentimes incongruous materiality of Kirili's verticals and bases further showcases his attention to the ways in which the physicality of the human body can be imparted on iron, among other materials. Like flesh on bones, the base does not function as a support for the vertical but as an essential unit that completes it.