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Back to Reviews 96

 Cubeweave, 1996.
Photo Oren Slor.

 Untitled, 1995.

jim isermann 
at feature 

by Elisabeth Kley 
A monolithic cube looms in the center of 

Feature's north room. Chest high, Jim 

Isermann's Cubeweave sits alone, pushing at 

the intimate space it occupies. The minimal 

shape echoes Tony Smith's famous Die, a 

six-foot-square cube of rusted steel, but 

Cubeweave, at a slightly less imposing five 

feet two, is made of cushiony foam rubber 

and is upholstered on all sides, including 

the bottom, with carefully seamed, colorful 

handloomed cotton, meticulously woven by 

the artist himself.

Untitled (1995), a smaller related piece 

covered in plaid, was included in Feature's 

"Ab Fab" show last spring. Rising just a 

few inches above the floor, too high to be 

a rug, too low to be a bench, and too 

angular to flounce on, it could only be 

enjoyed from an awkward crouch and seemed 

perfectly designed to trip over. Untitled's 

minor aggravation escalates in Cubeweave to 

full-scale aggression, as if all the 

customary furniture, tired of being useful, 

decided to join together in one rebellious 

clump and kick the human beings out of 

their room. At the opening, people gathered 

at the gallery entrance to greet the artist 

and periodically circled the sculpture 

as if it were an alien presence. 

Such a belligerent presence is at odds with 

Cubeweave's cheerful cloth covering. In an 

unsettling combination of imposing bulk and 

cushiony comfort, Isermann has elevated a 

textile motif often used for dishtowels 

into a hefty symphony of color, as formally 

rigorous and optically active as an Ad 

Reinhardt painting. The entire pattern 

flickers as different threads mingle in 

sweet and sour hues, and square patterns 

shift from side to side in changing groups 

of rectangles. With delirious absurdity, 

Cubeweave brings together Minimal 

sculpture, geometric abstraction and the 

Pop art ready-made, yet the purity of its 

woven surface somehow transcends them all. 

Absorbed in the rainbows of squares that 

stretch out over the top like endless plots 

of flowers, I had to wonder: if something 

is so beautiful, does it really matter if 

it's art?

Jim Isermann at Feature, Oct. 18-Nov. 23, 

1996, 76 Greene, New York, NY 10012.

ELISABETH KLEY is a New York artist who 

writes on art.