Methodically, Diane Simpson’s sculptural forms entice and allure while avoiding all the pitfalls and indifference of overtly logical sculpture. Simpson’s work is unequivocally affective despite the rigidity of her material choices. Her recent exhibition at Corbett vs. Dempsey was a meditation on the style and structure of the peplum garment analyzed through seven sculptural works that intermixed materials like steel, plywood, linen, velcro and aluminum grids.
In the gallery, the staging of the sculptures invited the viewer to walk among them. While standing beside the six free-standing figures, a rhythmic, almost militaristic composition emerged, with lighting and placement just as integral to the formal qualities of the piece as the screws that hold the piece together. However, these theatrical components were secondary to the true conceptual underpinnings: the politics of illusion and constriction in women’s attire and the embodied presence they construct. Details slowly unfolded, echoing the creases, bends and wave-like abstractions Simpson mimics within the overall planer qualities of her work.
Simpson builds powerful moments of resistance into what could otherwise become an overwhelming aesthetic. Fingerprints on polished aluminum, running hemlines and slightly skewed linework reveal a deft artistic hand throughout the minimal exhibition. These are precise and carefully considered figures, their deliberative making planned in companion rendered drawings. And yet, each wears delicate and poetic touches only detectable in person, invisible to the camera.
In this new body of work, Simpson pairs embellishment and craft with the bravado of cool, conceptually influenced choices, all atop a single ground plane that is scuffed and worn from past performance. The artist’s cumulative subject matter of fabric and architectural accoutrements demand experience, not short-sightedly objectification through a screen or on a page. For the careful viewer, the comfort of beauty is met with confrontation that confirms the intellectual and progressive qualities of Simpson’s project. (Brit Barton)