Continuing the experimental program at Carpintaria, Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel space in Rio de Janeiro, the exhibition Opening Night proposes a dialogue between three artists from different generations whose practices orbit mainly around sculpture. The American Lynda Benglis, the Brazilian Erika Verzutti and the English Jesse Wine present, together, fifteen works from their recent productions.
The “opening night” suggested in the title refers freely to the homonymous film of 1977 by American director John Cassavetes. In the plot, a middle-aged actress – played by Gena Rowlands – faces an identity crisis while rehearsing her new play. The exhibition alludes to the stage on which the story unfolds by presenting a single base whereupon the entire set of works by the trio is displayed. The platform transforms the sculptures into vehicles analogous to the actors, at the same time erasing the geographic and generational gap between the three artists in order to underline their affinities.
Juxtaposed with each other, the works by Lynda, Erika and Jesse are transmuted into powerful allegories of the condition of sculpture in the contemporary world – laden, in this reflection, with artifacts such as irony, experimentalism in the manipulation of materials, and a vast lexicon of references, direct and indirect, to the history of art.
As the veteran of the trio, Lynda Benglis’ (Lake Charles, USA, 1941) production is deeply rooted in the history of American art. Her works began to gain attention in the late 1960s, when her work emerges as a response to masculine predominance within the practice of fusing painting and sculpture, which originated from movements such as minimalism and process art. Marked by a strong physicality, the sculptures of the Elephant Necklace (2016) series create dynamic relationships between mass and surface, where malleable material becomes rigid and vice versa, in a process that freezes the gesture. Also included in the exhibition are two works with bronze and stone from the 90s, Man/Landscape and Landscape II.
The gesture also occupies an important position in the production of the artist Erika Verzutti (São Paulo, 1971). Her sculptural making is revealed through an investigation of the nature of mundane objects, among them fruits, vegetables, and materials proper to artistic practice. Filled with humour, her exercise of free association gives rise to works that distance themselves from an immediate identification, often evoking narratives that are either personal or related to the history of art. Mulher Fruta [Fruit Woman] (2017), for example, alludes to the idealization of the body in a papier-mâché and styrofoam sculpture, while Dieta [Diet] (2017) portrays, in bronze, a curious tower with eggs and bananas.
The emphasis on material also manifests itself in the work of Jesse Wine (Chester, United Kingdom, 1983). The young artist chooses ceramic as the predominant material, and through traditional techniques he challenges notions of composition, form, and narrative. Works like Modern Emotion and So Human (both of 2017) make a critical reference to the representation of the body in modern sculpture, while Santa Fe (2017) and others of the same series present compositions that flirt with the landscape.