The Space Between: Julia Mangold’s Drawings and Sculpture

The three largest sculptures of Julia Mangold’s Drawings and Sculpture stare, despite being compilations of black, geometric fragments that do not readily read as anthropomorphic. These sculptures made of wood covered in a thick sheen of wax stare not only because they stand at eye level, but their physical masses also emit the weight and form of a standard human when standing beside them.  The block forms that comprise their structures protrude and retract strategically, shifting the overall sculptural shapes without giving any sense of being precarious; these staring stacks do not back down. Rather, they hold their own in a room full of people and objects meandering through the same space. - Erin Langner, Seattle Contributor

Installation view. Image courtesy of Elizabeth Leach Gallery.

The idea of objects in space resides at the center of Mangold’s new solo show at Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Portland, OR (Closing on the 29th).  Its deceivingly simple title suggests two separate mediums often connected in process but not always to one another’s benefit when shown together on a single artist’s behalf. Also made of pigmented wax, Mangold’s works on paper layer translucent blocks that levitate within their frames, feeling less like drawings than delicate, ephemeral versions of their sculptural counterparts.

Installation view. Image courtesy of Elizabeth Leach Gallery.

Julia Mangold |
Untitled, 2012 - 023,  2012, pigment in lacquer and wax on wood.

Although most of the artist’s works resist color, a vibrant blue takes over the palette of select works; this rupture arrives in the otherwise monochromatic space with ease.  Popping into the black and gray field of forms, the blue hues prompt closer examination of lustrous surfaces consistent across Drawings and Sculpture, highlighting the consistent role of the wax medium that dominates the works attached to wall, as well as those freestanding on the floor.  The wax shell that coats the larger sculptures extends the softness of the works on paper into the three dimensional space, moving Mangold’s black towers away from the daunting presence typical of large scale, minimalist works. The resulting dialogue between the walls and freestanding works flows seamlessly, creating an immersive space to ruminate among the artist’s aesthetic meditations.

Julia Mangold | Untitled, 2012-0502, 2012, pigment in wax on paper.

Installation view. Image courtesy of Elizabeth Leach Gallery.

Julia Mangold | Untitled, 2012 - 010, 2012, pigment in laquer and wax on wood, 39.5 x 39.5 x 4"


Julia Mangold was born in Munich, Germany and currently resides in Portland, OR. Her work is included in collections throughout the United States and Europe, including the Busch Reisinger Museum, Harvard University, Yale University Art Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Drawings and Sculpture is on view at Elizabeth Leach Gallery through September 29.

Erin Langner is a writer based in Seattle and is Manager of Adult Public Programs at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM)


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