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JOHN LUEBTOW

April 27 - June 1, 2002 at Patricia Correia Gallery, Santa Monica

by Nancy Kay Turner


"Art is a reflection of those who make it, of their ihi (prestige), wehi (fear), mana (power), mauri (life force) and wairua (spirit)."
--New Zealand Maori Tribe



John Luebtow's elegant glass sculptures on pedestals continue his decade-long exploration of the tension between line and form. Each work is crafted from one-inch thick, pale green glass which is slumped in a kiln over undulating forms. Meticulously crafted, each charismatic piece is characterized by flowing lines, not only in the form itself, but etched onto the surface as well. These sandblasted sectional lines are deep enough to become grooves. Deeply sensual, invitingly tactile, these works delight the senses. Though thoroughly abstract, the works nevertheless suggest forms in nature and in architecture, such as rolling waves, the wind blowing over the ocean, leaves falling, and hallways or portals.

Although most of the sculptures are five feet or larger, there are two intriguing works which may be maquettes for later larger pieces. Entitled LF-1-02/03 and LF-2-02/03, each nearly identical tiny structure (approximately 4" x 6") is composed of concentric nesting arches. This enclosed shape is more narrative and specifically figurative, as it suggests doorways and psychologically invokes a place of shelter. These anthropomorphic forms are an intriguing new direction for the artist.

LF-21-00/10 is vintage Luebtow, with its stylish, Art Deco sandblasted surface. Luebtow has commented that there are two events that have led him back to the purity and simplicity of his earlier work. After September 11th he felt a need to return to basics. For him that meant further refinement and simplification of shapes and lines that he has been working with for years.

Luebtow has also found himself influenced by the Maori culture after traveling to New Zealand. Drawn to the beauty and spirituality of Maori Art, he discovered the rhythmic patterns drawn on masks were not merely for decoration, but were actually an encoded language of symbols. Each line apparently denotes the status, job, clan and other pertinent information about the subject. The language of the line has always been central to his work, and Luebtow found his fascination with line rekindled after studying Maori art.

Glass is one of the few materials that allows the viewer to see the interior and exterior of an object at the same time. Transparent or translucent, glass--though beautiful--is inherently dangerous. It can break and splinter at any moment. There are only a handful of artists who are able to portray on such large scale in this fragile medium a sense of delicacy and whimsy. Dramatically lit, these pieces glow, offering unique reflections and myriad perspectives.


“LF -4- 01/10,” 2001, glass slumped and
etched, elevated on 4-polished stainless steel
feet with brushed aluminum base, 18 x 12 x 52”.