In this show titled "Captive Spirits," Panama-based artist Isabel De Obaldía continues her experiments with cast glass sculpture. The results are dazzling. Most of the pieces are less than two feet tall, but the impact of the work as a whole is monumental.
She focuses on a series of winged figures that seem to be caught in a process of metamorphosis. The translucent, crystalline bodies look ethereal. One of the most striking works on view, Alsino, shows a ghostly figure with a white head and green leaves for arms. De Obaldía's work is loosely based on pre-Colombian sculpture forms, and many of her images were also inspired by Latin-American folk tales.
In much of the work, De Obaldía effectively uses subtle streaks of color to deliver an emotional charge. The touches of blood red that highlight the facial features in Nazareno, for instance, seem to indicate the passion of a martyred figure. Among other successful pieces is the colorless Puro Espíritu, which looks like it was carved from a chunk of quartz. While her overall project seems to address the transcendental, De Obaldía's approach is never heavy-handed. The playful Tronco, for example, shows a red figure with an erect penis. With outstretched arms metamorphosing into tree branches, this totemic sculpture seems emblematic of sexual potency or fertility.
Isabel De Obaldía, "Captive Spirits," Dec. 1-Dec. 24, 1999, at Mary-Anne Martin, 23 East 73 St., New York, N.Y. 10021.