new-york

Howard Ben Tré

Charles Cowles Gallery

Howard Ben Tré’s sculptures consistently involve a luminous, cast-glass bottle set within a patinaed metal frame. The two are somehow reconciled yet ingeniously at odds: the bottle is curved, and the curves project on both sides beyond the flat frame. The effect is that of an archaic abstract figure, hieratic and ultrarefined, that stands ceremonially in space as though to mark it with a feminine plenitude—an odd amalgam of the Venus of Willendorf and a Cycladic figure (in fact, the curved bottle and flat frame seems to form an emblem of prelapsarian sexual union). Indeed, Ben Tré calls his monumental sculptures “Bearing Figures” (all works 1996). There are five of them, in addition to Bearing Figure with Undulant Vessel, whose curves give it a particularly rich, dramatic presence and are implicitly as endless and recurrent as ocean waves, and Bearing Figure with Alabastron, whose cast

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