- Source: SF GATE
- Author: ALEJANDRA SALAZAR
- Date: JULY 26, 2017
- Format: DIGITAL
Huge sculpture stands sentinel in ‘Liquid City’
Diana Al-Hadid’s “Nolli’s Orders,” the centerpiece of “Liquid City,” is a product of more than two years’ work and stands over 10 feet high.
Diana Al-Hadid’s “Nolli’s Orders” is the centerpiece of “Liquid City,” her ongoing show at the San Jose Museum of Art. At first glance, the sculpture — which, along with the rest of the exhibition, will be up through Sept. 24 — resembles stacked layers of melted wax running down the sides of veined, multicolored stones. It looks like a civilization in flux, like a city in ruins, or maybe like a city growing up from the ground itself.
“Nolli’s Orders” is a product of more than two years’ worth of meticulous work. But the eventual outcome, an ambitious, imposing sculpture standing over 10 feet tall, came as a surprise to even Al-Hadid herself.
“It may not look this way, but it was a very improvised work,” Al-Hadid says. “I tend to take these small steps and just hope it adds up to more than the sum of its parts.”
For “Liquid City,” Al-Hadid deliberately looked to incorporate architectural, historical and literary elements into her work. “Nolli’s Orders” exemplifies this. The rock (actually a combination of foam, plaster, wood and other construction materials) has been twisted into smooth, humanoid shapes akin to Renaissance sculpture and painting. The wiry drips of polymer gypsum and paint (not wax, although it mimics it from afar) create a maze of thin columns and boxed-in space that echo the elegant geometry of Italian architect and surveyor Giambattista Nolli’s elaborate maps of Rome. Glimpses of Gothic cathedral windows, with their elongated elegance, emerge as fluid arches atop a steel frame.
“I had a personal objective that I wanted to think about a different kind of format,” says Al-Hadid. Then she hesitates, unwilling to imbue the show with meaning beyond its given context, inviting viewers to further interpret the work as they will.
“But it’s hard to know what kind of show you’re doing from the beginning,” she finally adds. “I’m not really thinking about what idea I want to plant in someone else’s skull. ”
Diana Al-Hadid: Liquid City: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. Through Sept. 24. San Jose Museum of Art, 110 S. Market St., San Jose. http://sjmusart.org