ERNESTO NETO: ...AI...AI...: Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York
It is with great enthusiasm that Tanya Bonakdar Gallery announces an exhibition of new work by Ernesto Neto, opening on Saturday October 11. ...Ai...ai... will be Ernesto Neto's sixth solo show at the gallery, and with this opening the gallery is delighted to celebrate more than ten years of working with the artist. The phenomenal new works that comprise the exhibition build on Neto's recent practice of constructing sculpture from interlocking materials—wood, steel, and acrylic among them—and incorporating these hard surfaces in larger installations of his signature Lycra tulle and spice. Exercising his genius for engineering and the construction of social space, the sculptures hum with organic energy, balance and equilibrium. Spanning both galleries on two floors, this major new body of work will be on view through November 15, 2008.
In the new works featured in the exhibition, Neto has used flat biomorphic shapes cut from various solid materials such as cor-ten steel, aluminum, or color acrylic, and fit together in an improvised process of assembly. The resulting organic and figurative compositions represent nothing so much as the dynamic interdependence of the elements themselves. As in Neto's earlier elastic Lycra works, which are generally filled with volumes of particulate matter and rooted to existing architectural structures, the forms of these works are the result of discovery and improvisation. Once again, weight and gravity, tension and friction, dictate form.
Since the mid-1990's, Ernesto Neto has developed among the most widely exhibited and influential bodies of work in contemporary art, sculpture and installation. Neto's work draws influence not only from the biomorphism and Modernist abstraction of Calder and Brancusi, but equally, from the conceptual, social and performative installations of his Brazilian predecessors, Lygia Clarke and Helio Oiticia. As such, Neto's works challenge the static definition of formal sculpture, proposing instead that sculpture play a more interactive role, resolving conflict with natural balance and equilibrium. Like an alchemist, Neto creates spectacular environments merely by encouraging simple materials to behave as expected, exploiting gravity and friction, the physical dynamics of the universe, to represent the world in real time.
While investigating the properties of the natural world, Neto's works also function as models of the social environment, creating new architectural settings that investigate scale and redefine the boundaries between the artwork and the viewer. This interactivity is both intellectual and physical, serving to illustrate our global and universal connectivity. As clearly and directly as the smell of spice penetrates the nose, Neto's works transcend the static and rigid; they compromise, shift and penetrate. Interior and exterior become continuous in a sensual exploration of the body. Along these lines, Neto creates spaces for engagement between individuals. Rather than directing autonomous bodies towards discrete objects, the visitors become social bodies set within a new cultural environment. Our physical and social dynamics, formally and psychologically, become elements like all the other material Neto uses, set within a new context and left to negotiate the established rules of engagement.
All installation images above: Photo by Jean Vong & Chris Burke