Myles Bennett, A Comment in the Margins


The idealized forms and draped goddesses of Greek temples seem to reside restlessly beneath the surface of Myles Bennett's art. A former student of architecture, he no longer imagines buildings, though he retains an interest in structure, repetition, and the human body. With a high level of craftsmanship, he uses techniques that borrow from both design and fine art. The “Lead Stacked” series for example, are large drawings named for architectural materials – “Glass”, “Wood”, and “Metal” -- and display an intense and precise application of drafting pencil to canvas. Most of the works in this exhibition use some combination of canvas, graphite, ink, and wood support. 

The exhibition also includes work from the series “A Comment in the Margins” – canvases that can be removed from the wall and worn. Bennett investigates this very idea in photographs where he has draped the canvas over alabaster mannequins. Here the mannequins’ soft organic shapes replace the hard geometry of the wood stretcher bar. By wrapping the fabric upon the human form, Bennett points to an inherent relationship between painting and the scale and shape of the body. Such convertible objects straddle worlds between the boundless paintings of Frank Stella and Elizabeth Murray, the gravity affected sculptures of Robert Morris and Lynda Benglis, and the couture of Issey Miyake. The photographs, in three copies of a hand-bound book, are part of this show. 

Bennett’s newer work, “In the Manner of Hanon”, unites the exhibition by combining ideas from the two earlier series. The artist begins these pieces by stretching canvases over a worktable, then staining them with colored ink. He interrupts the smooth, painterly spills by meticulously pulling threads one at a time to leave half of the original fabric weave intact. After this reductive process, he hangs the canvas on the wall, from the ceiling, or by metal armature, where it maintains just enough structure and symmetry to hint at familiar human forms.