By: Douglas Bentham  09-12-2011
Keywords: Sculpture

His new work pushes abstract sculpture towards the Baroque. Nevertheless, the pieces are organized—governed, by their own sculptural architecture. This architecture inclines to cage-like configurations characterized by curved rods and tubes containing curved plates and volumes. 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. These platforms don’t hold the sculpture aloft in the traditional sense. They’re part of the visual universe of each work rather than a separate element. They’re something like abstract “stages” which help to separate and isolate the configurations. The platforms keep them apart; they insist that the sculpture is designed to be looked at rather than physically entered.

The curved “drawing” which composes them has two aspects: it draws sinuous “dancing” arabesques in the air and it draws around and contains space. In the first aspect it draws within and penetrates space. In the second, it draws “around” space, creating transparent shaped and volumes.

These two aspects of linear drawing are augmented by the insertion of plates, cones and cylinders. Here Bentham gains variety by playing off transparent shapes (drawn with rods and thin pipes) against these opaque solids. These rather musical compositions play upon the relations between the explicit and the implicit, in effect blurring the distinctions between the two. Solids become illusory. Spaces become substantial. The various parts set up echoes and rhythms within the piece, much like echoes and rhythms do in music or poetry.

Terry Fenton
From catalogue essay, National Exhibition Centre, Swift Current, 1991

Keywords: Sculpture

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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.


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.


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.