Lynda Benglis's new sculptures, known collectively as "Hot Spots," will be shown at Cheim & Read from October 19 through November 13, 1999. Cast in bronze, aluminum or glass, the Hot Spots are roughly hemispherical nodes formed of what appear to be tangled masses of thick irregular cords or filaments. Some are made to hang on the wall, while others sit on the floor. In them Benglis continues to explore and redraw the boundaries between painting and sculpture, between surface and volume, between image and content, between gravity and weightlessness, between beauty and repulsiveness-dichotomies which have been present in different ways in Benglis's work since she first began showing in the late 1960s, as the recent, concise retrospective held at the Guild Hall Museum in East Hampton this past summer showed.
In contrast to the recent Pedmarks sculptures (not to mention earlier poured latex works) which imply a free-flowing, wavelike bodily movement, the tightly coiled, linear squiggles of the Hot Spots suggest a condensation of energy, "an implosion of space" as Benglis says.
Analogies to the body are associative rather than specific, and the Hot Spots look as much like some kind of wiring or industrial by-product as viscera. "Whether it's painting or sculpture, that's not the issue anymore. Finally, it's the metaphor that I'm interested in," says Benglis.
Bodily metaphors, and a kind of beauty that is close to ugliness, are also apparent in Wols's still life photographs of food and household objects from the 1930s. Wols, born in Germany as Wolfgang Schulze, moved to Paris in 1932, where he was first a photographer, later turning to the informal painting for which he is now best known. His photographs were all but forgotten until the 1970s, when a group of his negatives were printed by German photography historian Volker Kahmen and photographer Georg Heusch. The photographs in the Cheim & Read exhibition come from this group. An exhibition of Wols's photographs was held at the Busch-Reisinger Museum in Cambridge in the spring of this year, but to our knowledge this will be the first exhibition of Wols's photographs in New York City.