Phillip King’s “Four Decades with Colour”

Phillip King "Genghis"

Phillip King’s “Four Decades with Colour” continuing through Feb. 12

Blue Star Contemporary Art Center

San Antonio, Texas

Beginning in the early 1960s, Phillip King helped revolutionize British sculpture with his dramatic use of color and non-traditional materials such as fiberglass and plastic in large-scale abstract forms. “Four Decades with Colour” is an intriguing survey of his much-lauded, more than 50-year career that he began as a student of Anthony Caro and assistant to Henry Moore. A longtime professor of sculpture at London’s Royal College of Art, King served as president of the Royal Academy and received the International Sculpture Center’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.

This survey ranges from early, geometric tabletop forms in brightly-colored fiberglass to more recent experiments with painted PVC foam, though he’s also worked with clay, wood, bronze, steel and aluminum. But despite his use of brilliant color and highly layered geometric forms that can tend toward the whimsical, King avoids becoming too cartoonish while maintaining conceptual rigor glossed with a fine sheen of intellectual humor.

A giant-size blue fiberglass cone topped with enormous batwings suggestive of a Mongol warrior’s helmet, “Genghis” is a seminal work that was featured at King’s 1968 Venice Biennale exhibit and is still often reproduced in contemporary sculpture textbooks. However, “Genghis” was recently part of an exhibit in China and during shipment to South Texas had some paint scraped off, though it remains a regal showstopper that dominates this exhibit.

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