Gallerynote 4/2003

November 22, 2003 to January 31, 2004

FRED SANDBACK (1943-2003), Commemorative exhibition
«My feeling persists that all of my sculpture is part of a continuing attitude and relationship to things.» Fred Sandback, 1986.

Fred Sandback was a shy, contemplative person. Tall, bearded, friendly and stable - a deceptive first impression. Fred Sandback's life was shaped by his vulnerability and defenselessness. He had little affinity with the current art scene. He achieved currentness wherever he built his sculptures. His works convey a high degree of presentness to the viewer, who has to physically encounter and experience them on site. Yet the price for this present character is its emphemerality. «Once the work was done, it was done, whereas I had a continuing need to disrupt that permanence that I had wanted. Perhaps indeed, I have nomadized my existence.» Fred Sandback, 1986.

Although the dialogue with predetermined, existing spaces makes a substantial contribution to the completeness of these artworks - a reflection of the author's unusual artistic intelligence - important autonomous sculptures still remain with us after the death of Fred Sandback. The term «installation artist» was something he always rejected.

Back in 1966, he produced his first sculpture using string and a piece of wire: the contour of a rectangular solid, 2 feet x 4 feet, positioned on the floor. The limitation coming from the material used and the closely associated restricted vocabulary of forms by no means led to artistic reductionism. First came the illusionistic definition of geometric bodies. The keen observation of the gradual precise changes in the choice of material – steel, rubber string, acrylic yarn - and the treatment of form and space made it possible to see and estimate the path to one's own nature and to the essential.

A rich body of drawings and graphic material accompanies the work with and on the sculptures. In addition, there is also the group of wood reliefs produced since the mid-1990s.

«Illusions are just as real as facts, and facts are just as ephemeral as illusions.» This remark from Fred Sandback in regard to his sculptures, exhibiting volume yet neither mass nor material, construes illusion not as seduction but as the experience of an actual spatial situation. The works make transparent the process that enables the construction of place and identity.

Fred Sandback was not a man of many words. With his refined humor, he was always one to put his commentaries in perspective. His sculptures embody and convey what there is to discern.

Fred Sandback himself determined the duration of his life. In the end, his battle with depression cut him off from his supportive wife Amy and his closest friends. It is impossible to imagine the suffering and the loneliness that led him to his final goodbye.