Kick off Your Shoes and Hang Ten – Surfing at the Nasher

The exhibition Ernesto Neto Cuddle on the Tightrope will be at the Nasher from May 12 through September 9, 2012.

Friday night, the Nasher Sculpture Center threw a lively, salsa-tempoed party for leading Brazilian sculptor, Ernesto Neto (b. 1964), who – it turns out – is a brilliant and charismatic person.

Ernesto Neto (b. 1964). Born and lives in Rio de Janerio with his family.
(photo: Independent Curators International | Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York)

He possesses so much charisma and infectious rhythm that he might actually be the Pied Piper in disguise. Despite pouring rain, the Center’s guests, Director Jeremy Strick and Curator Jed Morse joined Ernesto as he danced to the beat of live Latin American music in the outdoor garden.  The drenched crowd rightfully celebrated with the Nasher staff, the artist and his assistants who had spent many-hours and late nights, over a week, to assemble this large and intricate piece of art.

The work titled, Kink (see below), fills the upstairs middle gallery. To experience it, as I did Friday night, is to continue celebrating Ernesto’s embracing approach to life.

“Kink” (2012) by Artist Ernesto Neto
Aluminum, crochet, polypropylene balls, wood, felt, and rubber | 14’ 3” x 66’ 8” x 13’ 8” | Courtesy of the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York.
(photo: Julius Pickenpack)

For me, the walk was like being on the inside of a colorful, textured abstract painting or in my own body entering my mouth and slinking through my larynx or proceeding into a cathedral’s sanctuary.

Entrance to “Kink”…It’s best to concentrate on the crocheted-bound path of rubber balls and best to have both hands free for balance.
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

The next day, Ernesto gave a talk, as part of the Nasher 360 Speaker Series about his journey as an artist. (Note: These talks are well worth attending.) Here are a few things I learned about him:

  • Why name the piece Kink? For more than one reason: It’s an alliteration (one of his favorite word tricks) with the first and last letters “K” bracketing the “IN” which, in Ernesto’s mind, is an image of two eyes flanking a mouth. It’s a term metal shops use for twisting or bending a length of thin wire, yet could be applied to how the colored ropes in this piece were manipulated through crochet. (Note: His grandmother and great aunt taught him how to crochet when he was a young boy.) Finally, he slipped in that “It’s fine to Be Kinky,” a bit unique.
  • Life is better and more joyfully lived through our senses – heightened through touch, movement (remember Friday’s dance in the downpour of rain?), mingling together, sound and smell. In one of his earlier installations, he used the scent of the herb oregano to connote masculinity and floral scent to evoke femininity.
  • Ernesto believes “slow is good.”  One must walk slowly to be open to sensory experiences and to fleeting (potentially profound) ideas. He leaves us an adagio pace with Kink at the Nasher. When I entered his suspended tunnel, I had to focus carefully on each step, heighten my awareness of the intricately crocheted walls (gripping them to stay upright), and move at half-pace, all the while thoroughly enjoying myself and noticing others doing so as well as we navigated the tunnel together.
  • He selected pieces from the Nasher collection that sang to him. (Note: He is a good singer and can tap a catchy tune on his microphone.) He began with a small sculpture by Matisse, Madeleine I (1901), and ended with Brancusi’s The Kiss (see below). Ernesto paused for a while and then told us, “All my work is about that (piece, The Kiss).”

The Kiss (1907 – 1908) | Artist: Constantin Brancusi | limestone | 11” x 10-1/4” x 8-1/2” (photo: Nasher website)

A bonus: Ducks sweeten the festive spirit Ernesto has brought to the Nasher. Don’t miss the Mother duck and her ducklings scampering through the gardens and water pool. (photo: Betty Viguet)



until Sunday, May 20th.