LOS ANGELES — In Lynda Benglis’s most recent exhibition, Excavation at Blum & Poe, the sensuality of her sculptures is as seductive as at any time, but the forces of gravity that defined her seminal poured latex and polyurethane items are traded for lightness. The significant bronze sculptures, accompanied by a space of compact ceramics, are spiral bursts that even further the artist’s inquiry into the “gestural and the knot” as they examine negative and positive room. This clarification conveys the official concerns but not the electricity of the functions, and the feeling of ecstatic movement that they capture.
The substantial sculptures consequence from a process of 3D scanning the modest kinds, building foam versions, and then casting the bronze applying the missing-wax strategy. In some instances, the twisting, cylindrical kinds of the bronze will work evoke tire treads or fragments of blown-out tires, references to movement that use an organic medium to gesture towards the artificial: the smooth floor of “Black Widow” (2021), coated in a black patina, could be rubber, although its sheen resembles porcelain or a shell, and its unfurling spiral implies a snail. The most striking of the sculptures are a luminous metallic (higher-polished White Tombasil or Everdur bronze). The meandering “Yellow Tail” (2020) twists all over alone in a determine 8 springing up from the floor, “Striking Cobra” (2020) surges out into the place of the gallery like a bolt of liquid gentle.
Benglis has extensive manufactured operates that challenge gravity — the forged aluminum “Wing” (1970) is a lava-like agglomeration of viscous drips that defies physics to jut off the wall the drama is heightened in 1971’s goopy, phosphorescent “Phantom.” What is fewer apparent, specifically with the polished bronze functions, is the pressure involving weight and lightness, and, by extension, the artist’s play with the politics of the abject.
In previous will work this kind of as the influential “Contraband” (1969), “Phantom,” or even the crystalline, geologically inspired “Hills and Clouds” (2013–15), Benglis confronts the implicit coding of the abject (or the informe, as it was redefined in 1990s art principle) as feminine by embracing the unruliness of her types, but refuting the conflation of flowing or oozing masses of issue with lowness or passivity. In the custom of the carnivalesque that animates a lot of her work, she turns the signifiers of abjection on their head and reclaims all that is vibrant, comfortable, increasing, or uncontained — undefinable as either matter or object, as Julia Kristeva could possibly say — to create an active, joyful aesthetics. This top quality endows Benglis’s artwork with its celebratory feminist politics, primarily based much less in a clear-cut affirmation of sexuality (as is sometimes mentioned of her) than in an exuberant alliance of touch and thought.
In this sense, Excavation’s excellent reflective spirals that stand eye to eye with or tower above viewers absence some of the political immediacy of her before performs, built at a time when coloration and participate in have been transgressive in just the context of high art — and, as a lot of critics have pointed out, artifice and vulgarity were being antithetical to the approach-oriented aims of her publish-Minimalist peers. Gone in this article are the glittering and Day-Glo colors that exposed the absurdity of submit-Minimalism’s statements versus illusion. The smaller ceramic forms on pedestals that occupy a person gallery area veer toward the elemental forces of mother nature, while the shimmering bronzes are practically sublime.
That’s not to say that the perform has no political relevance. The most extraordinary element of Excavation is its perception of flexibility. A lifelong experimenter, driven to defy actual physical obstacles in realizing objects, Benglis’s unabashed embrace of illusion is on whole exhibit. But no lengthier is the illusion in a dialectic with the item to produce a tension involving the symbolic and content fact. The metallic sculptures revel in the dematerialized participate in of gentle, without having will need or desire to be grounded — in the physics of gravity or formal considerations with course of action and material, regardless of the arduous procedure concerned in their creation. To paraphrase an typically-quoted passage from Nietzsche, the visual chaos that Benglis has defiantly cultivated for many years has specified start to a dancing star.
Lynda Benglis: Excavation continues at Blum & Poe (2727 South La Cienega Boulevard, Los Angeles, California) via June 25. The exhibition was arranged by the gallery.