Biography by Morten Sondergaard
Eli Benveniste’s work and life are characterized by a broad personal perspective and a fundamental courage to simultaneously move geographically and artistically; while employing various materials.
A self-taught and a member of the Danish artist group Koloristerne, Eli lives in Tuscany, Italy, in the artist town of Pietrasanta. She is the widow of the sculptor Jørgen Haugen Sørensen with whom she shared a large part of her life and work.
When she was very young, she embarked on an exploratory life journey from which she has never returned. Initially, it took her to Spain, Barcelona and then to Italy and Portugal; but first and foremost, she embarked on a journey searching for what art is and what art may be. She has continuously expressed herself in clay, this ancient and also very compliant material.
Eli Benveniste has been inspired by cave paintings and also the twisted bodies of the bog creatures which later would appear floating, suspended from galleries’ ceilings. In her work we find a dense web of widely interwoven time-layers emerging on top of each other and thus creating new patterns. Different times dissolve, mix and reveal new images. It may seem like a dissociation from contemporary art, yet the present and the past appear everywhere in Benveniste’s work.
It is vital to Eli to reflect courage and power, a desire to change things, to enchant and re-model the world – all themes that having pervaded her art right from the outset.
Her choice of materials reflects great curiosity: expressing herself with equal ease in clay, bronze, glass, resin and rubber. Tradition is also important to Eli Benveniste; in recent work she has used the foot as motif. Here we find a twisted human body and the foot becomes a pars pro toto: a part for the whole; a humorous and grotesque image of existence.
Recently, Eli has created a series of portrait busts where she demonstrates her ability to move easily between the abstract and the figurative. It is constantly the human being with all its madness and grotesque manifestations that works as a driver for her thematic engine and inspiration.