ANGEL ORENSANZ, by Calvin Reid
A respected artist for more than 40 years, Orensanz
has produced a body of work ranging from large abstract sculptures
with humanist overtones to a series of conceptual installations
and performances that whimsically address social and geopolitical conflict.
The latter works invoke his own brand of pacifism idiosyncratic vision of a multicultural, interdependent world community. Angel Orensanz
has done a series of quirky public performances. Beginning in 2001, the performances were conducted in Venice
, Florence, Tokyo, New York City
, Berlin, Madrid
, Paris and elsewhere.
They offer a personal response to the specter of war and suffering. These acts most vividly embody the artist’s engaging sense of transnational fellowship and spiritual introspection. Orensanz
constructed a large, man-sized transparent plastic sphere
that he rolled through the streets of these legendary cities — sometimes pushing it along from behind, sometimes walking inside the giant globe and moving it forward. He loaded it on a gondola and traveled the canals of Venice
; at other times the sphere
was parked in historic locales such as Piazza San Marco
or at the Brandenburg Gate
. While the sphere is on view Orensanz
and the people he encounters paint and mark up its surface.
The portable globe is like a giant existential snowball that grows metaphorically larger as it picks up layers of historic and symbolic grit and grime. In his catalogue essay, Thomas McEvilley
provides a brisk and lucid examination of Orensanz
‘s work and the history of the Norfolk Street
center and points to the significance of the sphere
in classical Greek philosophy.
is out to metaphorically link his personal and ancestral wanderings to the great international venues of human civilization. Hanging in the venerable Norfolk Street
building, his work evoked yet another revolution — it reconnected the historic transit between the old world and the new embodied in New York
‘s Lower East Side
offers himself as a kind of shambling figure, a delightful modern Sisyphus relentlessly pushing a scarred and sagging globe through the miseries and triumphs of human history.
— Calvin Reid. February 2003
is an art critic for “Art in America
“, where this piece appeared in February of 2003.