Sunday, July 26, 2015

Joshua Edward Bennett's "Ceniztanos"

Is modern physics overshadowing religion and philosophy? While most sciences still limit themselves to tangible and quantifiable things, modern physics theory often overlaps with the ancient metaphysical beliefs of Buddhism, Hinduism and Taoism. Throw in Einstein's attempts at a Grand Unified Theory --his so-called "theory of everything"--and the parallels with religion seem fairly obvious. Visual art has always reflected the influence of science, religion and mythology, but few artists have ever attempted a "theory of everything," which is what makes the range of Joshua Edward Bennett's Ceniztanos works at Good Children so unexpected. Quietly unassuming at first glance they, in his words, "exhibit concerns" about: "symbols and their meaning, ritual, ceremony, psychedelic visions, global connectivity on a psychic level, sacred geometry, awe, timelines, wonder, mechanical spirituality, tonal equilibrium and fascination with the other," in mixed media concoctions that are woven together in an improbably coherent fashion.

Precisely crafted from painted aluminum and plywood, these polished constructions reflect design motifs ranging from Pythagorean geometry to Peruvian Indian textile patterns. Elements of both appear in works like Ceybaiyi, top, the mysteriously iconic vibes of which recall the antiquity- based modernism of the Art Deco designs of the 1920s (as well as a diagram I once saw in a BMW motorcycle repair manual). Yet more mind bending are compositions like Woxi and Swonaa Naoxi, cube and conduit-like forms that play visual tricks not unlike the optical illusionist art of M. C. Escher if your eyes dare to linger on them. More complex concoctions like Biydwa Fosajic, above left, evoke ancient computer circuit boards inexplicably recovered from the ruins of Machu Picchu. Bennett also composed a dronelike electronic music soundtrack that accompanies the show, and if Ceniztanos doesn't quite equate to a grand unified theory of everything, it wades further into those deep and murky waters than most artists dare to contemplate, and we can only wonder what Einstein might have thought had he lived to visit 21st century St. Claude Avenue. ~Bookhardt / Ceniztanos: New Mixed-Media Work by Joshua Edward Bennett, Through Aug. 2, Good Children Gallery, 4037 St. Claude Ave., 616-7427.