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Ben Woodeson | Obstacle
Berloni, 63 Margaret Street, London W1 8SW
A review by Patrick Morrissey, July 2015
©Copyright Patrick Morrissey and Clive Hancock All rights reserved.
If the work in Obstacle is any indication, Ben Woodeson’s twitter handle ‘@benisdangerous’ is aptly coined. The aesthetic of his sculptures is ostensibly minimal, each piece employing an economy of means to brilliant effect. Underpinning the simple elegance and precise execution of his ideas is the experiential impact within the gallery, visitors having to run the gauntlet of works that are menacingly placed across access routes.
I Love You, I Want You, I Need You... (Hot for Carl), Sheet brass,glass and electric fence supply 2015
There is an inherent sense of impermanence, implied geometry, and ultimately, anxiety,
in this exhibition. Initially, it would not appear that this work defies the accepted
rules of construction; a fleeting assessment suggests a flux between our comprehension
of perceived stability, the logical realisation that this work is physically unstable
and the implications that has for us, the viewer. In some instances, Woodeson’s
sculptures seem potentially auto-
One example of this is A Little Slice of Loveliness, constructed of a single square
sheet of glass suspended on a metal handrail, compressed against the wall of the
gallery. The lighting casts shadows in a multitude of angles against the wall’s surface,
suggesting a not-
A Little Slice of Loveliness, Salvaged rail and sheet glass 2015
Woodeson tests the materials he works with for their mechanical strength and potential failure, employing glass, steel sheeting and other familiar industrial or domestic items. He has controlled the work’s kinetic possibilities, so that to the uninitiated, his sculptures seem tethered by industrially manufactured paraphernalia and in our mind, they appear to be ‘safe’. However, the implied mechanical authenticity of each piece is constantly contested by the dawning realisation that they could in fact lash out at us in mechanical failure to catastrophic effect. Woodeson’s works are conceived and created with a playful and inventive simplicity that belies their conceptual rigour and palpable drama.
In comparison, the neon work, Rat Trap Neon, induces a feeling of enfoldment and
eventually claustrophobia. Woodeson has made this installation using lengths of spaghetti-
Rat Trap Neon Neon lights and rat traps 2013
Stunning Sexy Sculpture, Oh Yes Brass sheet, neon, books 2014
Woodeson’s previous works and exhibitions have included titles such as Health and Safety Violation, and Screaming Ankle Slashing Tension Glass piece (60 second self destructive sculpture) and give a clear indication of what to expect from his sculptures; they are witty and exhilarating but also unexpectedly elegant and restrained.
Obstacle is on until 1st August. Ben Woodeson is also showing in the London Open, Whitechapel Gallery, until 6 September 2015.
Aberration', Agitation, Anger. Hand-