In a book on the works of Bruno Romeda, the Italian sculptor featured in this month's show at C. Grimaldis Gallery, essayist Alan Jones suggests that Romeda wants his work to be seen not in a gallery setting but outdoors. There, his open bronze triangles and squares and circles can interact with the landscape or the cityscape.
"The desire to plant his works squarely in the world itself, and to expose them to the forces of the elements, to measure up to or become part of, lies at the heart of Romeda's ambition," writes Jones.
But judging from the book's many pictures of Romeda sculptures both outdoors and against plain walls, and judging by the exhibit at Grimaldis, the gallery isn't necessarily a bad place to see these sculptures. In exterior settings, whether against a building such as the Amsterdam Opera or framing a garden in Geneva, they can tend to become just that, framing devices, almost a background to what you see through them. Against a plain wall, on the other hand, it's possible to concentrate on them; and then they become almost living things, which seem to form themselves even as you look at them.
Their basic forms are simple and familiar, but there's a lot going on in them. "Untitled Square" (1993), one of the smaller works in the Grimaldis show at 10-by-10 inches, has bulges at two of its four corners as if the metal were still liquid and flowing into -- or more likely out of -- its rightful place. It appears to have decided to go beyond being finished by the sculptor and to have a life of its own.
Not that the sculptor has been banished. His hand can clearly be seen in these works, nowhere more so than in "Untitled Circle" (1986), where the bronze looks like strokes of paint as it flows and bunches, stops and starts. Here, as elsewhere, surfaces are quite tactile -- they show that they've been formed by the human touch, and in turn they make you want to touch them.
If these geometric forms suggest the organic nature of living, changing things, however, they also reassert their geometries; a specific piece will both be the form that it is and incorporate other geometries. "Untitled Triangle" (1985) incorporates rectangular slabs, while "Untitled Square" (1990) is partly composed of bronze segments in the shape of acute angles.
These works belie the simplicity of their basic forms with the complexity of their surfaces and with their implications -- for they refer to geometric abstraction and gestural abstraction, sculpture and painting. Photographed in the context of landscape, they can look less than their best, even at times bordering on the precious and affected -- which may merely reflect the fact that they've been too carefully posed. But met face to face in a neutral setting, they have a good deal to offer.
What: "Bruno Romeda: Recent Sculpture"
Where: C. Grimaldis Gallery, 523 N. Charles St.
When: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, through June 29
Call: (410) 539-1080