On ViewDavid Kordansky Gallery
May 6–June 10, 2023
It can’t be a coincidence that spring weather returned to New York just as Fred Eversley’s radiant exhibition opened at David Kordansky. This, the Brooklyn-born artist’s first solo showing in the city since 1976, also marks a homecoming: after living in Los Angeles for decades, Eversley has triumphantly returned.
The installation at Kordansky provides something that fans of Eversley’s sculptures have long desired: the chance to see more of them. For, like his California peers in the Light and Space movement and who developed finish fetish, the ways he plays with and exploits optical effects compound when his work is seen in quantity.
And those effects are astounding. Cylindrical Lenses brings together six cast and polished polyurethane sculptures in two basic, tapered shapes—one feels more triangular and the other winnows a bit more toward the ground—all greater than life-size. They are megalithic and space age at the same time. The lenses’ flat sides are sheer like the most precipitous ski slopes, while the curved faces bulge out with diameter rather than over like slumped shoulders; the bases achieve waxing-moon profiles. The material is fascinating to observe in person: it is both hard and liquid due to the casting and burnishing of its surfaces. They’re tinted in shave ice colors of sapphire, amethyst, ruby, topaz, and aquamarine… or blueberry, grape, raspberry, mango, and Blue Hawaii, if you prefer, and trigger impulses of desire that are closer to lizard-brain instincts than mere longing.
Because the sculptures are both translucent and transparent, they interact visually with each other, their surroundings, and their viewers in curious ways. They are as inclusive as they are immersive: you will look as funky as the person you observe through the opposite side, though perhaps in different ways. When we stand in the gallery’s entryway and face them straight-on, the slightly more grey-blue Untitled (cylindrical lens) (2023) is cast through the crimson Untitled (cylindrical lens) (2022) placed in front of it; the blue piece elongates and takes on the red’s tinges. But you also notice that the orange Untitled (cylindrical lens) (2023) is reflected in the right side of the true-blue Untitled (cylindrical lens) (2023) even though it is placed to the left of it.
Moving around the sculptures offers further revelations. The triangular lenses project their colors onto the floor in single, stretched concave triangle shapes, while the elliptical lenses project overlapping twin arcuate deltas of light (appropriately for artworks that reference the distant past as well as the future, these shapes are also sometimes called astroids). As I was looking through the curved side of the frontmost, true-blue lens, something zoomed past my left eye, moving right. A split-second later, my right eye tracked a motorcycle riding down the street moving to the left. The sculpture had reflected movement on the street and offered it to me as a moving image not after reality as in film, but before the real transpired, as in science fiction.
But for me the most alluring effect occurs while walking around the grey-blue lens. I began at the curved side and moved to the right, across the flat face, and back once more to its rounded spine. I saw the orange lens reflected, the body but not the head of another person in the gallery with me, and the sculpture’s medium seemingly folding back and forth on itself within the angle, creating what looked like the sharpest shards of ice. And then, just as I turned the corner, the angle and the shards and the color and the light whipped together to toss me into the glittering core of a roiling wave. I felt as though I were seeing stars, or maybe darting fish. It might have been what Narcissus experienced just as his face touched his reflection and he was lured into the water. Like rocket ships or the stained glass of cathedrals, Eversley’s objects are manmade but not quite of this world. In short, they’re awesome.