Catalogue No. 137
Artist's CR 129
Acrylic on aluminium and chrome on brass, Plexiglas base
96 x 30 x15 inches / 244 x 76 x38 cm
Collection: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
In Laing’s art the intellectual path towards an aesthetic of efficiency runs parallel with that one on the wayside of which he has abandoned all the symbolic elements of his earlier paintings. His sculptures often retain the suggestion of a skydiver’s free-fall but instead of translating this figuratively he now presents ’free-fall’ defined and abstracted. Emotional response is not provoked by the formally inventive enactment of an exciting event; instead, that pictorial enactment is distilled into clear concepts. This can become a very tricky undertaking especially since his desire for autonomous balance can only decrease the human values of his former figurative expression. Now he is even discarding the ‘wavy line’ of Freestanding Trace that first appeared as the billowing folds of the skydivers’ parachutes and was then incorporated into the sculptures. He refuses to allow himself any unfinished surfaces, fuzzy edges or protruding bolts that might otherwise elicit our empathy as it does in less obviously calculated abstract sculpture. By denying himself such emotive outlets which, at their worst, we are apt to call excuses for bad workmanship, he provokes the jaded mind to wonder what can be his excuse for good workmanship. The answer must be in part that precision, like efficiency, can be treated as an aesthetic per se. In terms of the application of precision a structure such as Pink virtually opens and closes the argument as to whether precision is important inasmuch as it effects [sic] the immediacy of our perception.
Nuove Tecniche D'Immagine, Michael Findlay, exhibition catalogue, Palazzo dei Congressi, San Marino, 1967