Places |  Karen Wilkin

Noland’s recent sculptures are like recollections of inhabited places. For many years, he has worked with lumber cannibalized from sources ranging from derelict furniture to abandoned houses, employing a language of building and joining that echoes the previous history of his materials. Lately, he has added steel and plastic to his palette, at once strengthening the associations with building and enriching his range of colors and textures. Noland’s complex structures can seem improvised, cobbled together; narrow strips or fragile planes are ganged into dense masses that can seem temporary or casual. Fragmented “walls,” schematic “windows,” collapsed “railings,” and blocked “entrances” make his sculptures seem domestic and vernacular, like disintegrating rural outbuildings. But Noland’s four-square planar constructions soon begin to read not only as distillations of architecture, but also as reinventions of Cubist painting space in three dimensions. Although these ramshackle “places” are scaled to the human body, subtle distortions of expected proportions and placements further divorce them from the literal; “windowness” takes the place of “window,” “the possibility of passage” replaces “entrance.” The metaphorical replaces the specific, but overtones of human presence, both past and imminent, persist.

excerpt from An Inadvertent Vanguard
The Hudson Review
vol. LV Number 1 Spring 2002
Karen Wilkin 2002