Ernesto Neto: Cuddle on the Tightrope

May 12, 2012 - September 9, 2012
Born in Brazil in 1964, artist Ernesto Neto has gained acclaim for his large experiential environments that dramatically alter our surroundings, engage the senses, and invite interaction. Organic, womblike, and elemental, Neto’s installations draw on the lessons of minimalist sculpture, Brazilian New Objectivity of the 1960s and 70s, and the anthropomorphic architecture of Antoni Gaudí to remove the visitor from the assault and grind of the everyday world and provide an opportunity to slow down and reconnect for a few moments with essential sensory experiences.

The work made for the exhibition at the Nasher Sculpture Center, Kink, continued Neto’s explorations of elevated environments and crochet. For the first time, however, the artist added the complex new element of a freestanding, interwoven framework of metal structural supports. Passageways of crocheted rope transported visitors up into the space above the gallery floor, changing their perspective and relation to gravity, and nestling them in an aerie of polypropylene balls and crocheted rope. Initially taught to crochet by his grandmother and great aunt in 1994, Neto did not put the skill to use in his art until many years later. The artist now relies on a team of assistants to produce the enormous crocheted installations of recent years. 

Like many of the artist’s environments, the experience of Kink was meant to be both individual and communal. In order to preserve the shared intimacy of the encounter, only five people were allowed into the structure at a time. In addition to creating this new work, Neto  made a selection of objects from the Raymond and Patsy Nasher Collection, on view in the adjacent gallery. Including sculptures by Paul Gauguin, Constantin Brancusi, Naum Gabo, David Smith, and Cy Twombly, the installation highlighted Neto’s interests and underlined the often subtle connections and kinships between these historical objects and his own work.