Idiosyncrasy in contemporary sculpture has a way of communicating pleasure and humor, and Enrico David’s recent show did exactly that. His works play with the figure but also maintain a genuine sculptural intelligence that supports his offbeat themes. We know figurative sculpture is one of the West’s oldest visual traditions, so that it is no longer easy to find openings for new visions within its established legacy. But David’s work, with its bodies sculpted on top of each other so that they repetitively construct three-dimensional forms, pushes forward despite—or because of—its engaging eccentricity. This work presents itself, then, as an independent way of seeing, to the point where the odd forms can claim new insight. Although David often risks his enterprise by approaching caricature, we can recognize his quirkiness as something we have not yet experienced.
David mostly creates drawings and tabletop-size sculptures. Tools and Toys III (2014), one of the most striking sculptures, consists of a figure-like shape with four extended limbs but no head. A halo of thin metallic wires extending from the body likely represents an aura. One of the upward-rising limbs is distinctly phallic, eroticizing a form that seems otherwise spiritually inclined. It is hard to find precedents for Tools and Toys III, even within David’s output. It poses questions about figurative form and about presenting a mental conception at once ethereal and sexually direct. In Putting Up with It (2014), five human forms, their gender unknown, sitting one on top of the other, present a conundrum. What, exactly, do these figures mean? David offers no clue or hint to indicate how we might read the form, and so we are left with a ghostly presentation of five beings whose recalcitrance to interpretation is part of a compelling, intelligent mannerism that keeps us interested.