ALAIN KIRILI: Toccata I and II
Closing Date03 April 2020
This month, Alain Kirili has taken over our Gallery II to present two new sculptures, Toccata I and II. To complement our FOCUS selection this week, we've put together a playlist featuring toccatas throughout the history of music, from Johann Sebastian Bach, the composer who popularized the genre, to improvisational jazz, which continues to inspire Kirili’s work. Press play HERE while you read along.
A toccata is a virtuoso piece of music, meant to showcase the touch of the musician. The free style of the composition features strong chords and rapid runs, without repetition of measures. Here, Kirili translates this concept into a series of abstract brass sculptures. Inspired by David Smith’s Cubi series, the works feature distinct four-sided shapes, ascending upwards in perfect verticality. As the sculpture springs from the ground, there are unique touches of the artist’s "hand”— indentations and manipulations of the material in combination with the use of a variety of patinas take the viewer through a range of emotions and experiences. Just as the composer provides a platform for the performer to display his talents, Kirili displays his own mastery of the medium with subtle shifts and sleights of hand.
Beyond the sculptures’ formal characteristics, Kirili’s Toccatas are a reflection of the artist himself, specifically the innate passion he has for the concept of verticality. In The Brooklyn Rail, he told Susan Harris, “I need verticality; it’s part of my means of survival, of my dignity even.” The “touch” so closely associated with the toccata in music is found at a deeper level in these bronze sculptures. Through his decades-long study of verticality, a distinctive relationship forms between the artist and his work. Beyond just an appreciation of abstraction, his Toccata works ultimately reflect more than just vertical concepts—they are the embodiment and the essence of Kirili as the artist.