Through sculptures, Lesley Bodzy examines the transient nature of existence, trauma, loss and desire in the solo exhibition The Soft Embrace, curated by Anna Stothart. The narrative explores the human instinct to grasp fleeting moments and embrace cherished individuals, emphasizing the continuous and cyclical nature of life’s journey. As I immersed myself in this exhibition, a tidal wave of emotions surged over me like a distinct nostalgia evoked by the golden series, which left an indelible mark.
While influenced by feminist artists like Judy Chicago and her iconic work, The Dinner Party, Bodzy pursues her own interpretation of the female experience, imbuing her art with a distinctive aesthetic conveyed by her artistic gestures. This distinct approach is particularly present in the series Dialogue (2023) where the interaction of velvet and acrylic accentuates the undulating forms. In Dialogue 10 and 13, the black velvet resides on the interior, while in Dialogue 12 and 14, it assumes the role of an outer shell safeguarding the work’s golden essence. Dialogue 11 stands out as it is deftly folded to resemble an oyster. One could experience the compulsion to touch the work, modifying its shape by creating a new fold. These forms resonate with a harmonious blend of abstract stylization and the exploration of the creative process itself, effectively transforming the act of material manipulation into the central focus of each series. This series resonates with the strength of femininity, highlighting the ability to shape, command, and reclaim control over one’s life.
I Knew Better (2022) commands attention as the focal piece on the gallery’s left wall, primarily owing to its imposing size and sinuous contours. The body-shaped sculpture’s form is delineated with lustrous golden acrylic paint, intensifying its expressiveness. Resembling a wall-mounted niche fountain, where the golden layer flows akin to the water in a Baroque fountain, each crease breathes an organic essence of life and transformation into the artwork. A force seems to descend from the top, culminating in the basin at the bottom of the work. On the opposing wall, Soft Embrace, metaphorically portrays the process of trauma somatization as it metamorphoses into a new expression, offering a profound insight into this transformative journey.
An interesting aspect of the exhibition is the curator’s deliberate use of repetition, with patterns of three, six, or nine works, creating a rhythmic visual experience. What is captivating is the manipulation of space, with the volumes of the sculptures dictating the tempo of our interaction with the work. This spatial arrangement invites the audience to appreciate the structures and forms of the sculptures.
With Every Single Breath (2022) comprises nine 3-D printed objects, crafted from blue-gray plastic filament. The distinctive high-relief forms showcase a central, rounded protrusion from which material segments gracefully unfurl. This sculptural composition resonates with emotional occurrences that cyclically resurface in solitude, bearing the purpose of healing, confronting, and even learning.
Elegantly positioned in front of the windows, Feminine Royal I (2022), II, and III (2023) capture the rays of light as they permeate their forms, embodying the essence of individuality and irreplaceability. Their color palette: blue, purple, and violet, reveals the harmonious fusion of gentleness and resilience within the feminine spirit. The bronze sculptures, Relic I, II, and III (2022) ascend from their pedestals, imbuing the space and inviting visitors to interact with their distinctive forms. These forms originated through the artist’s manipulation and compression of paper cloth, symbolizing the latent potential inherent in everyday disposable materials, thus breathing significance into often neglected objects.
The collection of works in The Soft Embrace is gestural and expressive, evoking a pulsating tension that appears ready to burst forth. Yet, amidst this tension, there is a palpable breath of softness that allows for a slow, deliberate release of these pent-up emotions.
The Soft Embrace is on view Friday-Saturday 12-6PM or by appointment through December 2, 2023 at #704. 526 West 26th Street, 7th fl, 10001, NY, NY.
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Emireth Herrera Valdés (born in Saltillo, Mexico) is an independent curator and writer based in New York. She is published in Brooklyn Rail, ArteFuse, ISLAA's VISTAS, and Cultbytes. Herrera has worked in the education department of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Hispanic Society of America Museum and Library, and New York University. Currently, Herrera is involved in organizing the creation of murals in the city of New York as part of the Arts in Medicine department at New York City Health and Hospitals. Herrera holds an M.A. in Art History from the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU and a B.A. in Architecture from the Autonomous University of Coahuila.