ArtSeen: Lynda Benglis

Spanning five decades of creative output, Lynda Benglis’s solo show at Locks Gallery in Philadelphia is an inebriating—and joyous—encounter with the artist’s uncompromising creative practice. A curated selection of early abstract objects, as well as recently completed work from both her two US studios (New York and Santa Fe) and atelier in Kastellorizo, Greece, comprise the expansive exhibition; the two-floor retrospective reveals the critical gamut of Benglis’s alchemic praxis.

The artist’s lifelong (and life-giving) romance with form (-less, too) and texture drench her visual texts. A luscious vernacular of anti-language and capacious inventiveness teem across these mini-monuments. Shiny phosphorescent forms and molten-wax polygonal sculptures, effusively oozing sap of messy rainbow colors, and glittery polyurethane quasi-paintings (Benglis’s reformulated drippings of Abstract Expressionism) are not tongue-and-cheek irony, but rather startling, one-of-a-kind artworks. While the artist’s affinity for post-Minimalism’s grandeur endures, her oeuvre is more importantly an urgent reminder to viewers: tactility and desire breathe lightest in the in-between spaces of suspension.

Most impressive, then, is Benglis’s indefatigable sense of playfulness and imaginative receptivity. The beauty of humor—and its accompanying Eros—percolate across nearly every assembled construction at Locks Gallery. At 80-years-young, the inexorable innovator’s process and trans mode of experimental making resounds most in its iconic, camp-like aesthetic.

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