In sixteen works of sculpture shown at the Paul Schuster Gallery, Miguel Gusils tries his hand at a variety of materials: bronze, steel, iron, marble and terra cotta; as well as a number of styles. No. 1 "Torso" is a realistic treatment of the traditional nude. Instead of idealizing the body Gusils prefers to make it very fleshy and animal like. Irregular proportions and a relaxed posture help accomplish this. The same subject is teated in increasingly more abstract styles in three other works. No. 6, a marble nude, approaches a watered down cubism. As in the work of the contemporary Italian sculptor Martini the limbs are almost conical in shape. A more extreme example of this type of form is found in No. 11, "Centaur," which looks like stretched taffy.
The artist's most original style is revealed in metal pieces fashioned from scraps of steel and nails and welded into wire-like constructions. Here his style is modern but not international in the anonymous sense of the cubist, futurists, or constructivists. It has a definite Spanish flair.
Although Gusils lives in New Jersey, he was born in Barselona. Judging from this exhibit he is never so happy or so successful as when he is inspired by memories of Spain. Her legend and myth figure largely in his work. for a neo-realistic sculptor this provides a welcome change from more traditional subjects.
No. 16, "Christo," is an example of iron and steel pieces used to decorate the bare walls of Spanish homes. The armor and mustache of the "Christo" unmistakably belong to the cabellero de trista figura. When people remark that No. 14, "Horse Head," looks like Rocinante, Gusils reportedly denies he had Don Quixotc's hack in mind. It seems less likely that he was unaware that he was putting Don Quixote on the cross in this "Christo."
A rough and unfinished impression is conveyed by the metal sculpture. Much of the texture is like Gonzales' steel abstractions but such pieces as No. 5, "Torrero," have an even more extreme molten rock effect from the welding now seen in the work of Jacques Lipschitz. The strength of rough textures is contrasted by clean, stylized strips in the hands of the "Dancer," No. 7.
An attempt to experiment with problems of space as well as volume produces perhaps the most fascinating piece "Head," No. 13. Seen from many angles the face achieves the composite of expressions which Picasso attempts in two dimensions in some of his cubist canvases.
Simple materials and the story book are masterfully combined in the sculpture of Miguel Gusils to create a good deal more than sentimental or commercial folk art.