STEVEN GONTARSKI: DECEMBER MORNING PROPHECY, 10 DECâ€”15 JAN 2005 HOXTON SQUARE
American artist Steven Gontarski is a sculptor who deals mostly with the human figure, using a sleek, elegant and fetishised aesthetic that borrows from both Classical sculpture and the flamboyant excess of Baroque as much as from underground music and alternative youth subcultures.
Gontarski began his career making sewn figures: amorphous, fluid forms that were executed in shiny silver material, their soft bodies elongated and sublimated to create reduced and sexually charged sculptures. More recently he has been working with fiberglass in rich, luxurious colours; attracted by its brilliant gloss finish, where the viewer's gaze is both reflected and deflected by the mirror-like surface. Since 2002, Gontarski has been making sculptures and drawings under the title of Prophets â€“ quasi-spiritual, quasi-fantastical nude figures that are both aspirational and fictional, weaving possible gothic narratives with an eroticism that seems at once decadent and impure in its direction.
Prophet Zero is a slightly larger than life-size male figure, struck in a dramatic and romantic pose, arm shielding face, nude but for its medico della peste beaked mask. The work points to dark myths such as the Venetian doctors who wore birdlike masks during the plague years, or the infamous â€˜patient zero', a Canadian airline steward who introduced AIDS into North America. The body of this figure is anti-natural in its heightened realism, its legs too slim and feet willowy and toeless. It is both theatrical and funereal, its face shrouded by a swathe of fabric evoking not only luxurious sexuality but also the veil of mourning. The sculpture alludes to a certain spirituality but is highly ambiguous, hinting at possible narratives and silencing others.