Time Out New York / Nov 6–12, 2008

Ernesto Neto
TANYA BONAKDAR GALLERY

Curling through the main space like some monstrous caterpillar, Ernesto Neto’s sculpture The Wisdom of the Parts is a striking introduction to the Brazilian artist’s sixth solo show with this gallery. Constructed from Lycra tulle stretched and sewn over a skeletal plywood framework and weighted at key points with handfuls of gravel, the undulating form is perforated at regular intervals by small conduits linking its inner and outer walls. Sufficiently accommodating so that viewers can stroll inside, Jonah-like, the piece assumes the shape of a giant question mark, asking all sorts of queries about the construction and interaction of physical and psychological space.

In an upstairs room, Neto continues the interrogation via a set of smaller—though no less involving—sculptures that also use Lycra as a futuristic stand-in for organic matter. The table setting and chandelier in Plain Parts (Blue Table) look at least half alive, recalling Verner Panton’s amoebic furniture designs and works by Charles Long (a gallery stablemate). Talking Parts (Wood Corner) has a similarly biomorphic appearance, again incorporating a light fixture and seats to conjure a kind of otherworldly lounge bar. Exploiting his favorite material’s translucency to color the atmosphere it filters or contains, Neto also allows gravity to perform sculptural labor by pulling the fabric into bulbous dangling pods. Four plantlike structures assembled from slotted slabs of steel, plywood, acrylic or aluminum play games with balance, too, but look rather stiff in comparison.

Image: Ernesto Neto, The Wisdom of the Parts, 2008