Utilizing a variety of materials including concrete, plaster, fabric, wood, and found objects, Robert MacNeill creates sculptures that present materials in contradictory ways. The show’s title refers to Goethe’s comparison of architecture to “frozen music.” MacNeill extends this metaphor to sculpture, creating compositions that solidify movement and the ephemeral. Originally trained as an architect, MacNeill’s sculptural work can be seen as an extension and a critique of that discipline, reacting against Modernist and Cartesian tendencies in favor of structures that are intuitive and irrational.
MacNeill’s sculptural mix of dualities – heavy/light, permanent/ephemeral, lofty/grounded, static/moving – results in works that become contradictions of themselves, calling into question the true nature and substantiality of their materials. Things lose substance, defy gravity, and become reversed, tentative, or unsettled. A massive wall of hand-made concrete blocks is rendered delicate and ephemeral by the undulating folds cast into its surface; ribbon-like strips of fabric soaked in plaster form airy networks of parabolas that are frozen in space as they reach upward; an arrangement of wood fragments seems to hover unsupported above the floor. Through these and other works, the artist pushes the dualities of matter into a sculptural statement which disrupts the structuring and substance of materials, creating works that underscore fractured elements of doubt in the solidity of the contemporary world.