NANCY STAPEN, THE BOSTON HERALD, DEC. 27, 1985
“UNIQUE MIX OF FORMS & TOOLS”
With an installation comprised of sculpture, paintings and drawings, Christopher’s Sproat has transformed the Barbara Krakow Gallery into an environment of glacial refinement bordering on menace.
If warmth and vulnerability are important elements of your art brew, Sproat will definitely not be your cup of cultural tea. Sproat, and ex-Boston sculptor, is not an artist who could be accused of sloppy techniques; a cool compulsive sleekness dominates his work. Yet he has created an undeniably impressive body of work that is riveting.
Sproat wields his unyielding materials – painted wood, neon tubing and metal – with commanding authority. Inspired by Egyptian and African (particularly Bambara) designs, he has forged an updated version of rarefied elegance – a marriage of the computer’s black box and regal classicism. Although Sproat is a sculptor, his thrust is not toward form; contour is his strength, and his rigidly frontal, geometric sculptures gain dramatic presence through stark silhouettes.
When invested with covert threat, these gain an eerie, theatrical power. This is most true of “Manipulator,” a typically insect inspired wall relief of black painted wood, metal and cold cathode tubing. Bent into an hourglass parody of the female body, the blue-lit tubes are symmetrically juxtaposed around a triangular wooden “torso.” Circular “arms” end in razor-sharp points suggesting a fantastical Amazonian praying mantis. The preternatural combinations of elegance and menace, of abstraction and suggestion meaning, infuse “Manipulator” with tense uncanniness.
Sproat is also capable of whimsy, as the lyrical “Poet” attests. Viewed from the right, it’s a Cubist cut- out profile; walking around to the left enables us to see the bard’s head split open, revealing bronze connecting rods and a slit of incandescent light – circuits waiting to become sonnets.