Thaddeus Mosley openly acknowledges his forebears and influencers. For all their woody ruggedness, his sculptures suggest balances of vertical and horizontal forces — if hardly the polished finishes — explored by 20th century sculptors Constantin Brancusi and Isamu Noguchi. Other works evoke decorative geometries of African tribal art, even ritual facial scarification. There’s also something of the spontaneity of jazz, of which Mosley has been a published critic.
Five of his wooden sculptures, all in walnut and all from the last eight years, are in a concentrated display at the Nasher Sculpture Center. Organized at the Baltimore Museum of Art by curator Jessica Bell Brown, the show betokens long overdue attention to the still active 96-year-old Pittsburgh sculptor, as did a long Feb. 13 interview in The New York Times.
Mosley works with discarded tree trunks and branches, exploring the wood’s angles, proportions and grains. With bark stripped away, the marks of his chisel are boldly expressed. Sometimes they create longitudinal striations, at other times concave scales. What most of us would consider imperfections are savored, as in Off Mirror’s split trunk sliced in cross section and then carved in concentric suggestions/exaggerations of grain.
The works here are assemblages of two or more segments, one penetrating or dovetailing with another, the balances sometimes seeming to defy gravity. The tall, arcing element of Tatum Scales and its squatty companion evoke traditional African decorative geometries — and, well, a female breast.
Through Aug. 20 at the Nasher Sculpture Center.