With the Amazon on fire, artist Ernesto Neto offers a jungle

Los Angeles Times Entertainment 1 month ago

Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto is known for going after voluptuous sensory engagement in the social spaces he constructs from simple means. “Children of the Earth,” his theatrical new installation, continues his exploration of the Neo-Concrete legacy of such artists as Lygia Clark and Hélio Oiticica. It does not disappoint.

A narrow tunnel of fabric in a rippling green pattern greets you at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery. Work your way through, batting curtains to the side, and you arrive at a clearing in Neto’s jungle.

Welcoming orange futons in organic shapes on the floor nestle together like puzzle pieces, while simple drums and rattles made from gourds are tethered to the cushions. In the center, a padded mallet and a bronze Tibetan singing bowl for meditation await ritual use.

Stop, the ensemble murmurs. Feel and think.

Ernesto Neto’s “Children of the Earth,” 2019, mixed media.

Eighteen hoodies in fabric that matches the entry tunnel hang on hooks, available to wear, but they feel like superfluous costuming. The work’s most impressive feature is instead a multicolored, open-weave superstructure of knotted cotton strips suspended from the ceiling.

Pendulous crocheted sacks in various sizes are stuffed with natural substances — crackly dried leaves; pungent fennel, basil, cloves and turmeric; clacking pebbles and more.

The sacks are marvelously counterbalanced with one another by a simple — one could say organic — system of ropes and hooks to keep the apparatus stretched and suspended through gravity and mass. (A similar method is employed for a swing in another room.) The webbed contraption looks something like an unraveled alimentary canal — esophagus, stomach and intestines.

The Amazon rainforest of Brazil, Bolivia and Peru is aflame from a greedy mix of agribusiness and climate change. But in Neto’s art, a thoughtful space for absorbing the nutrients of social interaction unfurls.

Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, 1010 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood. Open Tuesdays-Saturdays, through Nov. 2. (323) 380-7172, tanyabonakdargallery.com

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