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Back to Reviews 97

Ernesto Neto
Installation view, 1997

© ArtNet Worldwide 1997

david ebony's
new york top ten

ernesto neto
at tanya bonakdar

Mar. 29-Apr. 26, 1997

While Sonnier and Matta deal with the senses of touch and sight, Rio de Janiero artist Ernest Neto explores as well the sense of smell, a realm artists usually ignore. Walking down the hall toward the gallery, visitors smell Neto's show before they see it. It has the wonderful, pungent aroma of an Indian spice shop. In this New York solo debut, the artist presents sculptures made of flour and powdered spices, such as tumeric, cloves and pepper, stuffed into women's sheer nylon stockings. A number of the stockings stretch from the ceiling to the floor, with several pounds of spice weighting them to the ground. Some simply lie on the floor, like sacks overflowing with powders of warm, earthy colors.

At first, the works recall the sculptures of Anish Kapoor, as the spices look like dry pigment. There is also a similarity in both artists' use of organic forms. Neto's, however, seem more often to refer to liquids. His expert use of nylon stockings results in works that resemble large wads of bubble gum or bladders filled with some squishy substance. The sculptures seem viscous rather than solid. In this impressive show, Neto has made a dreamlike, evocative environment by using the simplest of means.