By: Douglas Bentham  09-12-2011

[The Ancestrals] each loosely based on the form of a box, still participate in a familiar mode of construction. As the viewer approaches the work, a striking silhouette gradually gives way to a fugue-like interplay of interior and exterior, part and whole. Each piece is a carefully directed spatial drama.

The viewing remains straightforward until one realizes that each pairing is made up of two virtually identical compositions. In each case the “original” version is a welded steel collage with the “reproduction” executed at roughly one-half scale in patinated brass. According to Bentham, the translation of scale and material forces the viewer to deal with the language of abstraction.1 In looking from one piece to the other, the viewer is compelled to mentally reconstruct the work, to verify that, for instance, those two flanges join at just the same angle in both pieces. Through this exercise the viewer unwittingly remakes the piece, mentally mimicking the series of formal choices made by the sculptor. Not only is the horse led to water, but it is drinking before it knows it.

Timothy Long
From catalogue essay, MacKenzie Art Gallery, 1999

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Recent Work (2000-2009) | DOUGLAS BENTHAM

My desire here is to create objects with the concentrated energy that allows them to be viewed from a distance yet also demands your close-up attention. These tiny objects of wood, paper, tin and string, so vital to the birth of constructivist sculpture, trick you by their size. It takes a very different pacing, combined with a trance-like attention, to feel one’s way into small-scale work.



Gonzalez was referring retrospectively to Picasso’s early sculpture and, by implication, to the welded metal sculpture on which he and Picasso had recently collaborated. The idea of sculpture as drawing in space has been central to the development of modernist sculpture from the first decades of the twenty-first century. He was aware of Smith’s insistence on the primacy of a picture plane as the basis for sculpture.



The curved “drawing” which composes them has two aspects: it draws sinuous “dancing” arabesques in the air and it draws around and contains space. The pieces rise off the ground in a variety of ways, sometimes upon platforms that become surrogates for the floor rather than bases or plinths. This architecture inclines to cage-like configurations characterized by curved rods and tubes containing curved plates and volumes.


New Work (2010-2011) | DOUGLAS BENTHAM

These tablet-scaled works hark back to the Doors, where each work’s own materiality, its scale and flux of front/back, back/front offers a kind of psychological interior in the viewer’s imagination. Although the artist plans to show the Centurions as a group eventually, the Tablets represents Bentham’s first full-fledged museum installation.