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Lynda Benglis: Planar Device Exhibition

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by Bryony Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from
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Tribal Sculpture
lynda benglis, planar device, thomas dance
'Tamos' by Lynda Benglis, 2013

When I looked up the term 'planar device', I must admit I was confused as to why American artist, Lynda Benglis chose that as the title for her latest exhibition at the Thomas Dane Gallery.

A planar device is a piece of hardware, an integrated circuit, part of a computer's motherboard. From what I can tell Benglis's ceramics bare no association or resemblance to such a device. In fact, technology could not be further from these abstract 'pipes', which twist and bend to form arches and other unusual shapes.

lynda benglis, planar device, thomas dance, Lipan
'Lipan' by Lynda Benglis, 2013

Benglis didn't these sculptures to have complex functions or designs. She did not use a traditional potters' wheel, using nothing but her hands to squeeze them into shape. In some cases, Benglis did not even glaze the sculptures completely, leaving large sections in its raw matter form. This gives her work naturalistic tones; there is an earthiness about it.

lynda benglis, planar device, thomas dance, piro
'Piro', Lynda Benglis, 2014

The individual titles of each piece, therefore, make much more sense. Avoyel, Tamos, Lipan, and Piro are all names of tribes or tribal languages around Texas, Mexico, and Louisiana. I don't have the philosophical depth to understand how each shape represents these different cultures, but there are clear tribal influences, such as the rich fusion of colours, like red, yellow, and black.

lynda benglis, planar device, thomas dance, Avoyel
'Avoyel' by Lynda Benglis, 2013

When Benglis began to make a name for herself in New York in the 1960s, her work was said to challenge the minimalism of her male counterparts. While I can see this in her flamboyant use of colour throughout the years, I do, however, think that these incomplete (not fully glazed), abstract shapes that have no true form, specific details, would fit into any minimalistic setting or decor.

Planar Device runs until the 4th October, and is Benglis's second exhibition in London. It is the chance to see a medium she does not usually work in, for although Benglis experimented with clay as a student, it was not until the 1990s that she began to make ceramics. After that, she again moved back to using other materials.
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Why? Fun for art lovers
When: Until 4th Oct
Phone: 44 (0)20 7925 2505
Where: Thomas Dane Gallery
Cost: Free
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