|Charles LeDray, Sculpture 1989-2002
San Francisco Chronicle, 14 March 2003
14 March 2003
A Little, Fresh Perspective
Material possessions loom so large in the modern imagination that its a delightful surprise and, frankly, something of a relief to see them reduced to manageable proportions by sculptor Charles LeDray. LeDray painstakingly recreates clothing, furniture, techno-widgets, housewares and other objects of desire entirely in miniatrue, giving us a chance to view the items we identify with so strongly as they might appear from 50 feet away a critical distance that makes them seem both precious and preposterous, not unlike how Earth appears from space. Village People is a row of tiny hats in slightly unruly single file that gives a glimpse of manhood in microcosm, with male archetypes represented by a cowboy hat, a Union soldiers cap, a bejeweled crown and an ACT-UP baseball cap, among others. LeDrays attention to minute detail here is worthy of the Audobon Society, so deftly does he catalog the sartorial posturing and preening of the male of our species. But while the shrunken scale of the implied male heads and associated egos in Village People adds a touch of irreverence, the modest size of hundreds of tiny white porcelain vessels in a display cabinet in Milk and Honey adds an unexpected note of piety. The containers are miraculously intact and replete with enigmatic ritual meaning, like so many excavated canopic jars, leaving us guessing about their purpose and our own in this mortal coil. The specter of mortality is reprised in Wheat, a single stalk of the staff of life carved entirely in human bone. This is one of the few items in the show that is actually larger than life, making the small furnishings, fashions and other niceties on display nearby seem all the more insignificant by comparison in much the way Dutch painters grounded vanitas still lifes with the inclusion of a human skull.
For workworkworkworkwork, LeDray fabricated some 588 miniature items such as you might find for sale on a New York sidewalk, including used dress shirts alongside glossy art magazines and specialty porn. Here, LeDray gets us to kneel down and take a closer look at ourselves, and notice that the objects we labor to afford are all destined to be kicked to the curb, even as our avid pursuits of money, fame and sex seem to be endlessly recycled. LeDray offers a critical perspective that does not allow anyone to remain above it all, so accurately and insightfully are his observations wrought.