Ben Woodeson makes work using himself as human litmus paper, seeking a balance between attraction and repulsion, he develops pieces that challenge and confront. He experiments; commingling concept and intuition, investigating the physical and psychological qualities of materials through a process of trial and frequent error. How can basic rules of physics be exploited to assemble simple sculptures that straddle a line between stability and instability, action and inaction?
The works presented in this exhibition rely upon the viewers’ deft trepidation to deduce their own inherent fragility - the obstacle is not in the works alone, but in our navigating of them. There are, an intentionally tantalizing phenomenology. How do we react to problematic artworks, are we beguiled by the materials and aesthetic? Seduced by the fact it’s art, or it’s appearance?
The timbre of the works varies from cerebral to fragile, threatening and back. All however explore the precarious relationship between those uncertain sculptures, and us, fragile humans. Aberration, Agitation, Anger... (2014), consists of 96 synonyms for uncertainty, hand stamped into a sheet of brass. The piece instigates a primarily mental exchange between human and sculpture. By contrast Happy Smiley People(2014) lurks quietly, aiming to provoke a visceral reaction in the unwary. Stunning Sexy Sculpture, Oh Yes! (2014) just manages to exist; it’s lack of solidity becoming a potential guilty trap for the unwary or distracted among us; hope and trust are imparted upon a calculated scenario. Whilst at times Woodeson’s creations are candidly intimidating, concurrent to this there is a quiet restraint, more threatened than threatening.
The works seek to keep the viewer poised in a state of slight unease, situating the human presence in a hyper awareness of their surroundings and the physical space occupied by their own bodies. Poised, positioned; simultaneously occupying a possible moment of action and of potential consequence. Any detritus that remains becomes a full and valid state of the artwork. The relationship between viewer and work is symbiotic, each potentially affected by the other.
Based in London, Woodeson studied at Glasgow School of Art. He has exhibited extensively in the UK, Europe and North America. Recent exhibitions include Twelve-Fisted Boxing Caterpillar: Jack Bilbo & Ben Woodeson at England & Co (2014), Hackney Wick Takeover at the Victoria & Albert Museum (2014) and The World Turned Upside Down, Mead Gallery, Coventry (2013). Woodeson recently curated Morphisisation for APT Gallery in London, an exhibition examining the work of artists for whom pre-existing objects are the raw or source material. He was joint winner of the 2014 Anthology Prize at Charlie Smith Gallery and in 2013 he was awarded the Theodore Randall International Chair in Sculpture, Fellowship, Alfred University, NY, USA. Woodeson’s recent exhibitions have been reviewed in Art Review, Art Monthly and Culture 24. He is included in upcoming group exhibitions at The Whitechapel Gallery, London and Mostyn in Llandudno in Wales.
Ben Woodeson in conversation with Joanne Lee & Kit Hammonds, 3-4pm July, 25 at Berloni Gallery.
Ben Woodeson will be discussing Obstacle and his practice as a whole with artist and lecturer Joanne Lee and curator Kit Hammonds. Robin Mann one of the directors of Berloni Gallery will moderate the conversation. The discussion will be streamed and refreshments will of course be served.
Joanne Lee is an artist, writer and publisher whose work explores a curiosity about everyday things and places. She is a Senior Lecturer at Sheffield Institute of Arts.
Kit Hammonds is a curator based in London and Taipei. He is currently a Taiwan fellow researching the constitution of independent art spaces.