NYC | 5.23 | 07

Andy Goldsworthy: When I can

I’ve checked out the work of Andy Goldsworthy, with an ever-present attachment to his assembled observations. Wherever I can. In fact, I’ve studied his work since the beginning, decades before. Before he was a kind of household name.

There’s a bittersweet connection to my attachment, aside from the nature of the work. Decades ago, I used to build cairns with my younger brother, Matthew Girvin, now passed, when he would visit stateside; then, he was working in China. I can recall being in the mountains, stacking and balancing columns of rocks by roaring streams. Then drifting by, looking at them, like visiting leaves in the river, watching the shoreline world of our delicately locked and cantilevered stones, passing by. In Mongolia together, we’d explore the ovoo or stacked nomadic stone piles of the plains, casting stones together in Buddhist ritual.Then I lost him in 2001, in a helicopter crash while he was on a rescue mission in Mongolia, for Unicef. Before going, he said in an email — adventure awaits.

And it does.

Time passes. And in the contemplations of this work by Goldsworthy, at Galerie Lelong in Chelsea, NYC, I pondered that.

The idea of something that is seen, made once — clean, smoothed and perfected — in an aesthetic of implied beauty is an object of continued explorations among artists. Once beautiful, in pristine aisthetikos, then it degrades. I pondered that, too — for reference, in the photographs of Michael Eastman and his interpretations of such passages of grandeur in Habana, Cuba.

Goldsworthy, at the gallery, created a kind of tableau of dissolution in the space — once pristinely lathered in stuccoed material, then progressively delaminating from the walls, emanating the evanescence that all time savors. A room of wabi sabi, the Japanese sense of an aged utility, objects made more beautiful in the transcient advancement of age.

It all goes that way. Things fall apart. But can they not be more beautiful, newly envisioned, in their passage?

Tim Girvin | NYC