FROM T to T
I want art that unsettles me, that simultaneously attracts and confuses me, that pulls me to a place where language cannot go. Uneasy juxtapositions are what capture me. The tension of small differences is what holds me; the pathos of unexpected and unwelcome wholeness.
Life-lines thrown and sometimes caught are what I want; charged physical objects imbued with more human meaning than they can reasonably hold — objects, I mean, that jump when you reach for them, then silently glare like only the strongest places can.
– Richard Nonas
Rather than an object, it is sculpture of space deeply embedded in the particular spirit of a place. The crystalline clarity and directness of Nonas’s work tells its own tale. He brings a deep connection to nature, writing “animals delineate territory; we more perversely make places… places shaped to the shape of our minds.”
– Steven Holl
Dispensing with composition’s balances and counter-balances, the Minimalists called upon geometrical symmetries to produce the illusion of inevitable form. The rhetoric of necessity that sustains these effects and illusions has no place in Nonas’s aesthetic. He is an artist of the contingent, and there is great pleasure in seeing — in sensing — how perspicuously each of his sculptures is what it is and, at the same time, is open to other formal options.
Some of Nonas’s wooden scraps are fragments of flat boards; others are wedge-shaped; a few are pieces of unmilled timber. Though the last of these are his most irregular sculptural elements, irregularity characterizes all these works, if not in their constituent parts, then in their outlines. It’s tempting to say that each is an individual, and yet that would introduce a hint of the figurative. A better way to put it would be that a Nonas sculpture is irreducibly particular — powerfully so. For it is the particularity, the specificity, the quiddity of these objects that can engage us intuitively. This is what we empathize with. Ordinarily one empathizes with another living creature — a person or perhaps a cat, if one is a cat person. It is subtly surprising to realize that we can empathize just as intensely with a non-figurative work of art. We can recognize in it a presence comparable to our own. Nonas alerts each of us to the specificity of being — or, more precisely, to one’s own specific being in a specific time and a specific place.
– Carter Ratcliff, for HYPERALLERGIC