The striking Natura (1997), is a hefty chunk of red travertine that also seems in flux. The top, back, and one side of the stone are buffed to a gleaming smooth finish, while the rest of the surfaces are coarse and unfinished, with spidery veins and a few glossy streaks that look like water, or even tears, oozing from the rock. The only false touches are the small round marbles -- the kind kids play with -- embedded in the piece.
Easily the most breathtaking piece in the show is the large mixed-media construction called Palo Mayombe (1996), whose title alludes to an African-based religion imported to the colonial New World (including Cuba). Mounted on a speckled stone base, it includes a sleek wooden column that soars to a black marble sphere on top and another colored marble sphere perched on one side. A length of rope encircles the wood at the base of the black marble then cascades in a couple of graceful loops down the wood and around the base of the other marble ball.
The dramatic tension in the piece comes from the interplay of natural materials that have been shaped by human hands; the sculpture is simultaneously raw and refined. And despite the religious roots of Palo, there's something startlingly sensual, even sexual, about its imagery, and it's not necessarily just the phallic implications of the wooden column joined to its two marble orbs. The sinuous curves of the wood are suggestive of human forms both male and female, and the textures of the different surfaces make this the most tactile of Gallo's works here.
If this piece, which doesn't quite resemble anything else in the retrospective, is indicative of a bold new direction for Gallo, it suggests the exciting possibility that the sculptor's best work is yet to come.
"Enzo Gallo: Monumental Works" will be on display through February 8 at the Hollywood Art and Culture Center, 1650 Harrison St., Hollywood, 954-921-3274.