This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

13Jun/11

JAUME PLENSA: ECHO / ANONYMOUS

Jaume Plensa’s dazzling white “Echo” stands tall in the midst of the greenery of Madison Square Park (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Galerie Lelong, 528 West 26th St., Tuesday - Saturday through June 18
Madison Square Park, Oval Lawn, through August 14 [extended through September 11]
Admission: free
www.galerielelong.com
www.madisonsquarepark.org

Barcelona artist Jaume Plensa, who has installed large-scale public sculptures in London, Zaragosa, Canada, Antibes, Chicago, Grand Rapids, Dubai, and Des Moines, at last makes his New York City debut with the intoxicating “Echo.” The forty-four-foot-high work, composed of marble, plastic, fiberglass, and white pigment and dusted in white marble, depicts the seven-layered elongated head of a nine-year-old girl, rising in the middle of Madison Square Park’s Oval Lawn, mimicking the surrounding buildings. Her eyes closed, the girl appears to be meditating, dreaming, or lost in deep thought, her whiteness in stark contrast to the lush greenery of the grass and trees around her. Plensa has carefully crafter her face, from the nose and full lips to the ears and even the braid in the back of her head. She adds to the peaceful respite the Oval Lawn offers, as people congregate around her, lie down on the grass, and nap in the sun. And at night she glows, with lights shining on her in the darkness. “Echo” will remain in the park through August 14. [Note: The installation has been extended through September 11.]

Jaume Plensa’s “Humming” is part of outstanding show at Galerie Lelong in Chelsea (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Downtown in Chelsea, more of Plensa’s work is on view in the Galerie Lelong show “ANONYMOUS” (through June 18). In a small room in the front, “Humming” is another elongated sculpture of a female’s head, this one of an older woman and standing a mere eight feet high atop a small base, allowing visitors to get right in her face and examine every detail. As with “Echo,” it was created using a real model and 3D technology, although lead was added to the process here. The clearly delineated layers represent the different parts of the woman’s inner self, her divided psyche for all to see. In the main gallery, Plensa focuses on more faces, but in this case it is a collection of photographic works on paper that pair each image with a word, many of which are charged with meaning, such as “Beauty,” “Dread,” “Innocence,” “War,” “Spirit,” “Disease,” and “Humiliation” along with such “tamer” words as “Door,” “Night,” and the questions “Who?” and “When?” The italicization of the NY in the show’s name implies that these mixed-media portraits represent the melting pot that is New York, but the inclusion of the words and dirty, vertical brown stains that run down the paper and often across the faces plays off the idea of stereotyping, imbuing each image with mixed messages amid complex states of consciousness. It’s a powerful installation that works on several levels and an intriguing counterpoint to the sheer white beauty of “Humming” and “Echo.”

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