I began doing them already in Portugal last summer - long before we knew anything about the corona virus and the consequences we all would have to deal with.
A work process often begins by with the circumstances we find ourselves in. In this case I had to do smaller sculptures, if I wanted to work in my newly restored studio in Portugal; sizes which later could be transported back to Italy in our car. But I also Liked the idea of looking closely into a specific detail of the body.
But why feet exactly?
To me a foot is a kind of sculpture in itself, it has this particular triangular form, similar to the rhythm a conductor draws in the air, with his beat.
A form who closes upon itself in a very natural way. I discovered that they could be turned upside down, stand, lay and be distorted in every way and be expressive even with a few touches.
I started with a smaller foot, just the foot itself with no ankle. It became the foot of the Boor bog man or the Tollund man, that was found in bog land after more than 2000 years. Then I did "Blockhead Hans" foot - from the story of H.C. Andersen, a joyful peasant’s foot and after that, the small delicate foot of a Japanese lady having an orgasm, as I had seen on the Japanese prints we have in our bedroom in Portugal. Always the same clenched feet like a fist, so well expressed and not to be misunderstood.
A new piece turned out to be a refugee’s foot; a foot that had walked thousands of miles, tired and hardened and marked by the many steps taken under heavy burdens.
Back in Italy the series evolved in a more imaginative direction. Apparently, it was not necessary to make a whole body, let alone a face, to express a condition or situation, it could all be contained in there, abstract and yet recognizable at the same time.
I squeezed the clay so it took shape from my hands and turned into a kind of a tree, which were followed by some more optimistic and playful feet. Lately I am making ballet feet. As they can’t stand on their own tip toe, I had to make the better half - and they became a pair - an etude.
The fact they were a pair, suggested some pretty wild compositions and sculpturally that's where it started to get really interesting, because something new, which I hadn’t expected, came up due to pure necessity. And I haven’t finished yet.
Photographer Sylvain Deleu
2016, Tendency to gang Up
Eli Benveniste, 2019:
For a long time I have made sculptures according to drawings, they are not only sketches but actual recipes. I read the drawing contour three-dimensionally. The outline of a sculpture from a certain angle. At the same time, there are many possibilities within the framework of a line drawing and the sculptures I show here are variations over the same contour drawing.
When I drew the drawing, my idea was that the front of the body could be read as a back, as if the body had turned, while the "legs" were still coming out from the hips.
I sought a certain spatiality and wanted to express the essence of a movement.
As for the modeling, I thought, how little is needed? Where does the boundary between unrecognizability go to where I have, in fact, gone too far, when the desire to make my idea visible instead gets the first freshness that naturally arises during the construction of a sculpture killed. That's why I released them as soon as possible, when they were just as readable, caught in the moment.
The five sculptures have now been raw-burned in my workshop for two years, without being finished. They were from that time the Colorists no longer had to exhibit on the Free. Now the Colorists are back on and I continue where I left off, and have made two more variations. Those who lacked to complete the series of "Tendency to gang Up".
2015, A Matter of Empathy
Manifesto 1. The creative, the conservative and the destructive man
Manifesto 2. The Missing Link
Manifesto 3. We do it because we can - A timeline
Manifesto 4. The common man's paranoia
Manifesto 5. If Only
"A Question of Empathy" A video screenplay from the Round Tower 2011,
Filmed and cut by Eli Benveniste, duration 9 mm
2014, Ornamental Tales
For a ceramic exhibition, at Galleri R2 in Bornholm in 2014, I made a number of plates. I call them "Ornamental tales" because it is the ornament, in relation to the shape I have been working with. The more than 3000 year old Minoan art from Crete has always fascinated me and there are some jars from here, with painted red octopusses, where the ornament is so perfectly adapted to the shape of the jar and at the same time depicts a very lifelike octopus that has sent me in this direction.
But I did not paint the surface, but instead scratched figures into the clay and glazed the line. It has been fun and interesting to go to another world and get to know the pottery technique and problems better.