Imago Galleries, Palm Desert, CA
by Richard Speer
Best known for her life-sized glass sculptures of dresses and tunics, Karen LaMonte made a lyrical foray into the kimono form in Floating World, employing not only glass but two media new to her practice, ceramics and bronze. Following a 2006 fellowship in Japan, LaMonte returned to her Prague studio with nearly 200 kimonos and began using diverse processes to transliterate this ancient form into sculpture. Her casting methods began with the original garments and were so precise that the imprints of individual threads were discernible in finished works.
Installed in separate wings of the gallery, one wing showcasing glass works, the other ceramic and bronze pieces, the sculptures were spatially comported and lit for dramatic effect, the glass works rising from gray pedestals like floating islands of captured light. As in all of the artist’s larger glass works, the pieces were subdivided into two or three sections, the hard lines of separation imparting an excavated appearance that heightened their iconic quality. The unseen figures wearing kimonos in works such as Chado and Ojigi—Bowing were depicted kneeling or mid-bow, lending a sense of movement and inferred personality. These gestures and the motions they connoted, along with the luxuriant puddling of diaphanous “fabric,” induced an uncanny disconnect between the hardness of the medium and the softness of the fabric they portrayed.
The variety of chromatic and surface treatments in the ceramic pieces—glazes, crackles, terra-cotta and terra-sigillata finishes, and gold leaf in Geisha and Maiko—afforded a sensuality of surface that proved gripping and invigorating. That a sartorial and cultural form embodying such delicacy and gentility could be portrayed in such a counterintuitively monumental fashion, attested to the artist’s sensitive melding of Eastern and Western sensibilities.
BACK TO RICHARD'S ARTNEWS REVIEW MENU
BACK TO RICHARD'S WELCOME PAGE
BACK TO RICHARD'S RESUME