Tinney Contemporary / 237 Rep John Lewis Way N. August 27, 2022 - October 8, 2022

Joshua Edward Bennett

Tinney Contemporary is proud to present OAZO, an exhibition featuring the immersive, multidisciplinary works of Joshua Edward Bennett.

Bennett’s spiritual investigation manifests as a collection of art-objects, as design and text, as sound and smell and light. The exhibition eschews dogmatics and epistemic closure in an embrace of openness and ambiguity. The title of the show–as well as the individual works–are in Esperanto, the constructed international auxiliary language developed in the 18th century by Jewish-Polish ophthalmologist L. L. Zamenhoff. OAZO, the Esperanto word for “Oasis,” is the embodiment of this utopian vision; a place of respite–perhaps only a mirage manifested from longing, a vision of water in the desert. “Utopia,” after all, literally means “no place.” OAZO, then, posits a retro-futurist sanctuary, a liminal space in which art-objects become conduits for aesthetic awakening.

Bennett draws on the underlying principles of the Bauhaus, striving towards a synthesis of disparate artistic media and sensory experiences. The installation consists of wall-mounted sculptures, interactive objects, light and sound, even souvenirs. Custom bulbs and window tinting lend the space an otherworldly light which forces the eyes to adjust, further setting the space apart as a sort of secular sanctuary. Each sculptural piece is accompanied by its own ambient musical score, a trance-inducing wash of sound reminiscent of the cavernous reverb of a cathedral.

The works are created using a CNC (Computer Numerical Controller) router, a device used to manufacture commercial signage. The forms and colors are at once alien and familiar: gentle gradients, deep blues, vivid yellows set against stark black; undulating curves contrasted with brick patterns and geological textures. The internal rhythms within Bennett’s work function similarly to the repeated colors and forms employed in marketing any “brand,” a notion which the artist consciously plays with. Furthermore, the precision of CNC technology allows the near-effacement of the artist’s own hand, removing any intermediary in an effort to create a space of meditative presence.

Taking a modernist-slant on Warholian identification with artificiality as the only authentic mode of being, the exhibition investigates notions of art as commodity, of the aesthetic dimension to religious experience, and of the link between the material and the spiritual.

Bennett’s artistic practice, as manifested in OAZO, begs an essential question: if stained glass and incense and holy relics are all intended to provide a link to the spiritual within dogmatic religious contexts, what happens when those rigid ideologies and fixed notions of spirituality are stripped away–or perhaps expanded into the infinite and revealed to be truly ineffable?

The result is an immersive and complete aesthetic experience which gently erodes the barrier between art and life and centers the spirit in the now.

OAZO will be on exhibit from August 28th through October 8th. The opening reception will be held on September 3rd from 2-8 PM.