Delicate art of bronzed twigs
James Hendricks's new sculptures at the Helen Shlien Gallery in Boston are cluster assemblages of found organic - twigs, branches, seaweed - and inorganic material, which appear to be exploding from within. Their charged yet elegant forms, which radiate centrifugally around a semifigurative center, have been miraculously cast as a unit in bronze - a task to make the most seasoned fabricator pale. To persuade a foundry to take on the job, in fact, Hendricks had to agree to absorb the cost in the event of failure. Fortunately, the castings were successful, and the resulting images combine delicacy and dynamism.
Hendricks is known as a painter of whirling, gyrating forms that appear to be bursting off the edges of the canvas, as if propelled by an inexplicable internal force. His recent forays into sculpture capture this image in three dimensions - a translation that feels particularly apt, given its circular, revolving nature. On the flat drawn or painted surface (of which there are some fine examples in the show), Hendricks's image looks like atomic particles breaking up in space. But in sculpture this central core suggests a figure, while the branches and bent wood, which project outward, imply the way the massed interior body - celestial or human - activates and transforms the space around it.
A startling amount of motion is packed into constructions such as ''Mystic Structure,'' which seems coiled, as if ready to take off. Being sculptures, however, the works are unavoidably grounded by gravity and frozen in space. Perpetually turbulent, they're imprisoned in stability - a paradox that only serves to heighten the tension of these powerful works. Through Oct. 6.