The Art Gardner

Artist Spotlight: Ernesto Neto
March 29, 2010, 4:42 pm
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Ernesto Neto's Anthropodino

Ernesto Neto's Anthropodino


When I was studying for my MA in Art History back in 2001, I worked in the University of Essex’s on-campus art gallery. It was a refuge and about the only place on that campus where beauty could be found. Our big exhibit while I was there featured John Constable’s Wivenhoe Park–a big deal as the painting had “come back home.” Busloads of little old ladies from the nearby churches came each day to see the local treasure.  

Lucky for them, they kept coming even after the show went down and were also able to see my absolute favorite exhibit by Brazilian artist, Ernesto Neto. Neto creates huge sculptures out of what I would describe as panty hose on steroids. He makes his space interactive and organic. Pods of spices like turmeric and cinnamon hang from the ceilings of many of his soft environments and there are open holes and “sleeves” on the walls so that people on the outside can reach in to those on the inside (and vice versa).  

The piece that was at Essex filled the entirety of the tiny gallery and was a wonderful cocoon. The material was about three inches off the floor, so if you wanted to walk inside (and you would want to walk inside), you had to take off your shoes. The feeling of stepping into that delicious smelling womb and slowly sinking to the floor was something I will never forget. The sight of the little old ladies taking off their Clarks and oooing and ahhing over this strange new form of art, so different from a painted landscape, was equally unforgettable.