LOS ANGELES — In Lynda Benglis’s most up-to-date exhibition, Excavation at Blum & Poe, the sensuality of her sculptures is as seductive as ever, but the forces of gravity that described her seminal poured latex and polyurethane parts are traded for lightness. The large bronze sculptures, accompanied by a room of compact ceramics, are spiral bursts that more the artist’s inquiry into the “gestural and the knot” as they examine negative and favourable area. This explanation conveys the official considerations but not the electrical power of the performs, and the feeling of ecstatic motion that they seize.
The substantial sculptures end result from a procedure of 3D scanning the little types, creating foam models, and then casting the bronze employing the misplaced-wax system. In some circumstances, the twisting, cylindrical types of the bronze works evoke tire treads or fragments of blown-out tires, references to motion that use an organic medium to gesture toward the synthetic: the smooth surface of “Black Widow” (2021), coated in a black patina, could be rubber, though its sheen resembles porcelain or a shell, and its unfurling spiral suggests a snail. The most striking of the sculptures are a luminous metallic (substantial-polished White Tombasil or Everdur bronze). The meandering “Yellow Tail” (2020) twists close to itself in a figure 8 springing up from the floor, “Striking Cobra” (2020) surges out into the area of the gallery like a bolt of liquid mild.
Benglis has long generated will work 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 less evident, notably with the polished bronze functions, is the rigidity concerning excess weight and lightness, and, by extension, the artist’s enjoy with the politics of the abject.
In earlier will work this kind of as the influential “Contraband” (1969), “Phantom,” or even the crystalline, geologically encouraged “Hills and Clouds” (2013–15), Benglis confronts the implicit coding of the abject (or the informe, as it was redefined in 1990s art concept) as feminine by embracing the unruliness of her kinds, but refuting the conflation of flowing or oozing masses of issue with lowness or passivity. In the tradition of the carnivalesque that animates significantly of her operate, she turns the signifiers of abjection on their head and reclaims all that is colorful, gentle, increasing, or uncontained — undefinable as both issue or object, as Julia Kristeva could possibly say — to make an lively, joyful aesthetics. This quality endows Benglis’s art with its celebratory feminist politics, primarily based considerably less in a easy affirmation of sexuality (as is often stated of her) than in an exuberant alliance of touch and considered.
In this sense, Excavation’s fantastic reflective spirals that stand eye to eye with or tower around viewers lack some of the political immediacy of her before functions, produced at a time when shade and play were being transgressive within just the context of significant art — and, as lots of critics have pointed out, artifice and vulgarity were being antithetical to the process-oriented aims of her post-Minimalist friends. Long gone below are the glittering and Working day-Glo shades that exposed the absurdity of put up-Minimalism’s promises versus illusion. The modest ceramic kinds on pedestals that occupy one gallery house veer towards the elemental forces of nature, whilst the shimmering bronzes are practically elegant.
Which is not to say that the work has no political relevance. The most amazing facet of Excavation is its perception of liberty. A lifelong experimenter, pushed to defy physical obstacles in recognizing objects, Benglis’s unabashed embrace of illusion is on total screen. But no longer is the illusion in a dialectic with the item to develop a tension among the symbolic and materials reality. The metallic sculptures revel in the dematerialized play of mild, without the need of require or want to be grounded — in the physics of gravity or official issues with procedure and content, inspite of the demanding approach associated in their generation. To paraphrase an frequently-quoted passage from Nietzsche, the visible chaos that Benglis has defiantly cultivated for decades has supplied delivery to a dancing star.
Lynda Benglis: Excavation carries on at Blum & Poe (2727 South La Cienega Boulevard, Los Angeles, California) by June 25. The exhibition was organized by the gallery.