“Now. Here. This.”
By Eli Hans
The current exhibition “Now. Here. This.” is an exciting solo show of 30 original works by assemblage artist Joseph Bennett. Bennett’s work has its roots in a famous collaboration between Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque in 1912. Fourteen years ago, his inspiration ignited when viewing works by his muse, Joseph Cornell, one of the pioneers and most celebrated exponents of assemblage.
“Now. Here. This.”
Fri, Feb 22, 5-7pm
Sat, Feb 23, 6-9pm
The Studio Space
Subida al Caracol 11
Bennett is an environmentalist and, accordingly, his sculptures are created from found or used objects only. “It’s a passive way of making people more aware of how much we consume,” says Bennett. “I’m fascinated by the challenge of juxtaposing various elements that had another life, and somehow making them exquisite. I want people to appreciate things they would otherwise throw away.”
Although he has a background in design and several degrees in other fields, Bennett is largely a self-taught artist. He grew up in Delaware and spent 10 years working as a psychiatric social worker, doing suicide and crisis intervention. He also spent many years as an actor, a classical ballet dancer, arts administrator and artist in residence, most recently at the Peabody Essex Museum during the Cornell Retrospective, organized by the Smithsonian.
A unique story lies behind each of Bennett’s assemblages, but some interesting observations can be made about them as a whole. By making the interiors of many of his boxes not readily visible, Bennett adds an air of mystery. “I don’t like to give everything away at once,” he explains. “I want the viewer to become involved.”
Curator Karen McGuire once said of Bennett’s work: “On a formal level, his assemblages show an affinity for the properties of early synthetic cubism, surrealism and primitive art. On an emotional level, however, the bits and pieces that make up the work are already suffused with meaning and help communicate a more personal message.”
Bennett’s assemblages range from architectonic, all-white pieces that wouldn’t be out of place in a textbook on Minimalist design, to veritable cornucopias overflowing with surreal, mind-numbing assortments of found treasures. As a designer, Bennett professes a preoccupation with form and structure, so he devotes considerable thought to the placing of objects in his assemblages. His concern with structure is most easily discernible in his white pieces. Among these is Out of the Shadows, which at first glance, appears to be a mere exercise in pure design. The artist reveals, however, that Out of the Shadows is