The Garden, 2003. 109 in. x 281 in. x 390 inches. Polyurethane foam. Courtesy of Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York.

The Garden, 2003. 109 in. x 281 in. x 390 inches. Polyurethane foam. Courtesy of Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York.


Ernesto Neto:

Solo Exhibition

March 6, 2004–May 29, 2004

Opening Reception:

Friday, March 5, 2004
5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Created in collaboration with The Fabric Workshop and Museum (FWM), Ernesto Neto's The Gate and The Garden are an ambitious exploration of material, form and scale. The monolithic sculptures combine to form an immediate and sensual experience. You cannot merely view the work; you must participate. As with the artist's previous large-scale installations, which he has described as a "kind of body/space/landscape," the effect of the work is felt through direct experience, not symbolic representation.

Through large fabric sculptures and participatory environments, Neto's work often probes the spatial and sensory relations between the viewer's body and the environment in which the work is situated. In his own words, his artworks exist as "a place of sensations, a place of exchange and continuity between people, a skin of existence and relationships." For Neto's collaboration with FWM, he replaced his earlier works' transparent skins of fabric filled with spices and powders, stretched, pulled and balanced with opaque blocks of solid polyurethane foam; in The Gate and The Garden, the skin is now full and flesh-like. Each cut was carefully considered so that the long carving blade would flow through the thick blocks, following the artist's hand while bending and flexing within the dense foam. As a result of the play between the artist and his new material, the resulting forms appear less determined, if not seemingly organic.

This new collaborative work by Ernesto Neto is a participatory environment that extends his earlier artistic experiments with unconventional materials. In a recent solo exhibition at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Neto produced an installation of dangling, membrane-like forms of white nylon filled with Styrofoam beads. Measuring 45 by 15 feet, these fabric sculptures nearly filled the entire room, completely transforming the gallery environment. Curator Olga Viso describes Neto's work as that which will "arrest us visually but also make us keenly aware of the spaces inside, around and between our bodies. We become voyagers in sensorial odysseys."