Called “Crush” (2011), Amsterdam-born, New York–based artist Jan Frank’s series of 32 drawings circled John Chamberlain’s swaggeringly upright, centrally positioned, solitary sculpture of painted, smashed-together metal, called Gangster of Love (1985). Chamberlain, who was famous for towering works made of crushed automobile parts, died in 2011 and Frank, a great admirer of the sculptor, dedicated these complex, finely penned, black-ink drawings to him.
The works on paper lined the gallery walls like an entourage of infatuated fans on the verge of a nervous breakdown, twitchy with electricity, their excitement contagious. The drawings’ overall compositions oscillate between the abstract and a sense of the organic and the animate—like structures in the process of coalescing, disintegrating, or engaging in both simultaneously. Four sheets of taped-together, lushly prepared linen paper constituted the format of the works throughout, reprising the additive nature of Chamberlain’s process. The grounds are tinged warm and cool, and little twists of color that emerge sparingly from the tangle of black lines were also keyed to the sculpture and its shining tones. Frank’s drawings offer many pleasures, not the least of them their frenetic, frazzled beauty and here, the unexpected but terrific pairing with Chamberlain—a mutual crush, you might say.