Mara Hussey looks at the unique visual language of Joshua Edward Bennett’s current exhibition at Good Children Gallery.
Joshua Edward Bennett
Good Children Gallery
4037 St. Claude Avenue
October 8–November 6, 2016
“OAZO,” the title of Joshua Edward Bennett’s newest exhibition at Good Children Gallery, is the word for “oasis” in Esperanto, an auxiliary language developed in the 1870s and ’80s to connect speakers from around the world. And just as the show provides a peaceful refuge from a bustling St. Claude Avenue, Bennett’s formal vocabulary functions like a constructed universal language, immediately accessible with its basic geometric structures and its limited color palette of black, white, and yellow. His pieces emulate everyday symbols like street signs and play with the impact of optical illusions and repetition.
In Sublimar, 2016, one of the larger and more imposing works on view, Bennett employs the familiar motifs of a flag and a brick wall, evoking notions of collective identity and reminding us that smaller, individual parts make up a whole. The alternating stripes of the flag come forward against the stark black of the bricks, exemplifying how Bennett creates unusual visual effects throughout the exhibition. These angular shapes and thin stripes recur in many of the other works on view.
Inspired by the utopian ideals associated with intentional communities, Bennett imagines the exhibition as a comparable space for metaphysical contemplation. Upon entering the gallery, viewers are immersed in an environment of visual and auditory vibrations. The ambient music Bennett composed for “OAZO” reflects the repetition and seeming simplicity of his latest works. While Bennett offers his own distinct language of color and form, each viewer is invited to construct an individualized set of meanings—a personal oasis.
Joshua Edward Bennett leads a walkthrough of “OAZO” on Sunday, November 6, 1 pm, at Good Children Gallery in New Orleans.
Mara Hussey is an M.A. candidate in art history at Tulane University and is part of Pelican Bomb’s internship program with local students.