Los Angeles Times 1996


Los Angeles Times

Suspending the Limits on Imagination in Sculpture

by David Pagel, Special to the Times

Daniel Wiener’s five pint-size sculptures at ACME Gallery hang from the ceilng on nearly invisible lines of monofilament. Loaded with associations that are difficult to articulate. These delightfully indescribable blobs of hydrocal, Sculpey and wire initially have the presence of words that get stuck on thc tip of your tongue.

Just beyond the reach of your mind or memory. Wiener’s tantalizing works lurk in the shadow of intelligibility. To wander among the New York-based sculptor’s lumpy, dysfunctional mobiles is to be struck dumb-in the best sense of the term.

These intentionally inarticulate configurations of color, texture, shape and weight strip viewers of our ordinary recourse to language. Amid Wiener’s suspended sculptures, the only logical thing to do is to give free rein to your imagination, leaving each piece free to elicit unanticipated experiences. They quickly begin to trigger odd associations.

“Pang” looks like a cross between the Stealth bomber and a vampire bat, with the added attraction of nine hooked feet, from which dangle nine blood-red forms shaped like bent cocktail forks with prongs on both ends. “As the Crow Flies” resembles a pair of tiny summer squashes joined like Siamese twins. from which extend spiraling wires recalling model train tracks, strands of DNA, hairs with split ends and beaded jewelry.

The more time you spend with Wiener’s libidinous sculptures, the more meanings proliferate. “Marionette” suggests that it’s the offspring of Puff the Magic Dragon and a hammerhead shark, to which the artist has grafted a pair of distended mandibles. The most complex piece, “Rumple, Crackle, Fold, Crackle,” appears to be the fusion of an inside-out brown paper bag and the vertebrae from a dinosaur’s tail, around which orbits a group of mutant seals whose skin is the color of eggplants.

If Wiener’s hand-crafted works begin by stopping language in its tracks, they do so only in the hope that the words you bring to them are of your own invention. This small yet generous exhibition celebrates idiosyncrasy as the basis of original thinking, which naturally enhances everyday experiences.