Critics’ Picks

Frank Benson, Human Statue (Jessie), 2011, bronze, dimensions variable, 79 1/4 x 31 x 31".

Los Angeles

Frank Benson

Overduin & Co.
6693 Sunset Boulevard
September 11–October 8

An image of a quarry on Overduin and Kite’s website announces Frank Benson’s current exhibition. In the artist’s arrangement of absences, there is only the suggestion of stone. The show contains two works: a photograph of a glass apple, Untitled (Apple), 2010, which is hung over a couch in the office, and Human Statue (Jessie), 2011, a bronze statue of a woman, isolated in the center of a gallery. Three other editions of the sculpture are on view at Taxter and Spengemann in New York, the São Paulo Bienal, and Hydra Workshop in Greece.

The sculpture lures the visitor through three-dimensional space. As one moves closer, the figure’s apparent smoothness gives way to the pores in her surreally fleshy arms, neck, and face. Her black tunic evokes cascading carved marble. A vessel appears to have tumbled from her outstretched hands, partially merging with the black pedestal in the manner of overlapping wire frame models—classical solids combined according to digital physics. More obviously contemporary are her sunglasses milled from bronze. The sculpture was not carved but rather produced using digital imaging, resulting in an uncanny technological realism.

Skeptical of the cool luxury of empty space, the visitor may feel tricked—by the artist, or the gallery, or others who “get it”—but Human Statue is really the source of our suspicions. The work resembles marble, a digital rendering, a human being, but is none of these; it occupies the void somewhere between them. It is natural to mistrust such an object. The replicants in Blade Runner were designed by their jealous makers to be mortal. In the emptiness surrounding the statue, our bodies confront its timeless material, which has been fashioned through invisible production into a virtuosic forgery of life that somehow mocks our limits while affirming the immortality of our images. Benson’s sculpture anchors the circulation of our bodies in relation to a void, reminding us that in the middle of every bronze is hollowness.