KCAC Forum Newsletter Volume 3 Number 12 December 1977
LYNDA BENGLIS AT THE DRAKE
Lynda Benglis is probably better known here for her sensational ad in Artforum magazine a few years ago than for her work as an artist. The current show at the Douglas Drake Gallery should change that. The show consists of seven recent sculptural wall pieces: four from her series of knots, plus three lagniappes, another series.
(“Lagniappe” is, I was told, a Creole term meaning, “a little something extra.”)
The knots are made from tubular lengths of cloth that have been tied in knot-like configurations, coated with plaster to retain their shape, and sprayed with metallic paint. The lagniappe series is also based on tubular form, but more decorative, smaller, and simpler. The show is elegant and a little baffling.
Each piece is characterized by a particular gesture that distinguishes it from the others. It is , however, an unresolved gesture; one that leaves the work looking somewhat fragmentary and incomplete. Should it be otherwise? I think not. The content of the work and the process of forming is so inherently formless as to defy coherence, and deliberately so.
How formless can a piece of sculpture be and still have form? This is a question that Lynda Benglis appears to ask through her work. it is not necessarily answered; to ask in a clever way is enough. Plasticity is maintained through the twisted and convoluted nature of the forms. In these terms the work sustains itself, connecting with tradition at the same time that it questions the relevance of tradition.
Lastly, the work is by no means a dry, formal exercise. An emotional response is evoked. The individual pieces look, in fact, a bit wistful. The viewer is called upon to complete the work. The show closes November 20.