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Carol Ross
Urban Moon


Haida Mask
Dazzling Geometry
by Ilka Scobie

Carol Ross, "Recent Work," Oct. 14-Nov. 22, 2003, at Janos Gat Gallery, 1100 Madison Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10028

In her new, human-sized sculptures, Carol Ross expands her vocabulary of pared-down, formal abstractions. An American artist who lives in New York and who has shown at Gat since 1994, Ross makes starkly sensual sculptures using a signature technique of meticulously metal-laminated wood. Concise and seamless construction imbues the work with a timely, monolithic perfection.

Primal in its totemic form, the freestanding sculpture Urban Moon balances trapezoidal planes with an intriguingly bisected circular crown. The dagger-sharp cleft of the orb perfectly counterpoints the soaring lines of the solid base. A subtle interdependence between space and volume suggests a futuristic three-dimensional play.

Another slim totem, titled Curve, derives a startling beauty from its sweeping obsidian lines , which tame a dramatic angle with concise power. Utterly unadorned, the forceful balance is imbued with a modern sense of mysticism. This piece recalls the recent Richard Serra show, without its grandiosity of size but similar in power. A related sculpture, Kiss, is dark asymmetrical stele notched at its apex with an open "mouth," which lends the work a balance that represents passion restrained.

"Nature and the figure are my sources," Ross has said. The inspiration for Petit Piton is a mountain in the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. The dazzling, gold-toned geometry of angles and light in this work replicates the symmetry of the cone of a volcano. Parallelism of form creates an obdurate pleasure.

Also included in the show are the four "Haida Masks," works composed of wooden laminates. These wall reliefs again refer to humanistic and animalistic imagery, reducing it to an almost architectural clarity.

Solidly grounded in their craft, Ross' highly simplified forms evoke ancestral symbolism, while embodying a continuation of modern esthetics. Using contemporary materials and approach, Ross' work touches on visual mysteries.

ILKA SCOBIE is a New York poet and art critic.