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The New York Observer

Installation view of Esther Kläs: Better Energy, (Jun 3–Sep 17, 2012) at MoMA PS1, New York, NY.

Tire Tracks, Totems and Tricked-Out Trees: Lara Favaretto and Esther Kläs at MoMA PS1, Oscar Tuazon at Brooklyn Bridge Park
By Andrew Russeth
September 4, 2012

WITH ANOTHER EXHIBITION, however, PS1 has a clear winner on its hands. Esther Kläs’s sculptures are exemplary of a current trend among young artists: making artworks that look beaten up and damaged, like ruins or relics. The German-born Ms. Kläs is one of the best at using this precarious, battered language of raw materials and hands-on craftsmanship, and Mr. Eleey has wisely put on her first solo museum show in the U.S.
Ms. Kläs’s most iconic pieces are probably her rough-hewn abstract totems made from materials like Aqua-Resin, concrete and HydroCal. They are human in scale, generally rising to around six or seven feet in height, and appear to change as you circle around and examine them. Wisps of alluring colors and textures gradually reveal themselves; the effect is almost sensual.

(F) (2012) is a vivid lavender totem that leans just slightly to one corner of its base. Its surface seems to burble with gestural strokes and bumps that she worked into the Aqua-Resin. Toxic- looking greens and yellows hum along beneath the surface, perfect complements to the bubble- gum pink of the plank she has propped on a thin, upright slice of plywood for hold (ex.1) (2012), in another gallery.

The purposeful imperfections in Ms. Kläs’s works disclose how they were made—a refreshing, humble gesture. At the center of each of the pieces called (1-4) (2012), she has scraped away some of the grainy concrete (speckled with bits of colored pigment that she mixes in before sculpting) to show the wire mesh that supports them. The piece’s modest poetry implies a broader question: How is anything held together?

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