At a moment when art making has splintered in multiple directions and the definition of art is constantly questioned, it is a luxury to step away from the chaos and indulge in simplicity. To be simple is not to be simplistic, rather it is—in its most positive sense—to be straightforward, to the point, unfettered by the need to masquerade as something else. This is precisely the appeal of Brian Wall's work; it is honest and uncomplicated, never weighed down by the desire to mean something—to be something—more than it is.
Working predominantly in large scale, Wall's sculptures embrace a precise vocabulary of forms, bringing together stainless steel beams of varying lengths in a range of upright or lateral compositions. Implied motion is inherent in Wall's sculpture, born of years of experience manipulating forms, playing with weight, mass, and various points of contact. The effect is enticing, at once expected and surprising. Each work carries within it a sense of impending movement, yet it is simultaneously rooted, its lithe steel forms solid and unchanging.
Guest curated by Dr. Peter Selz and Sue Kubly, Squaring the Circle provides a rare opportunity to explore Wall's work in magnitude. Composed primarily of large- and smaller-scale sculptures, the exhibition focuses on Wall's most recent creations. Sited throughout the de Saisset Museum's main galleries and outdoors on the campus of Santa Clara University, Squaring the Circle presents multiple pieces in dialogue with one another and with the existing exhibit space. A small selection of drawings and a documentary video of Wall's studio and creative process provide added dimension to the viewing experience.
Squaring the Circle is accompanied by a scholarly publication with essays by guest curator and scholar Peter Selz, de Saisset Museum Assistant Director Lindsey Kouvaris, late critic Norbert Lynton, and artist and critic George Neubert. The publication also includes an interview with Paul Karlstrom, formerly of the Archives of American Art.