The exhibition "In Tandem" stages an encounter between Edna Benes's two artistic fields: painting and sculpture. Their juxtaposition in a single space strives to initiate an imaginary dialogue between two artistic languages, echoing the Italian Renaissance. It was in Rome, that the buds of strife germinated between the painters and the sculptors, each of whom sought precedence. The question, which is the superior art form, remains unanswered even today. The title of the show thus relates not only to Benes's sculpted couples, but also inheres a contemplation of the paintings and sculptures she has created in different periods throughout her life and career.
A visit to Benes's home, bathed in the morning light, triggered the idea to present her sculptures against the backdrop of her paintings. This combination seemed right and natural for the gallery space, too. Although we initially discussed a sculpture exhibition, something that Benes said: "I was drawn to sculpture in the midst of painting," reminded me of a similar (yet different) story about artist Edgar Degas, who became famed for his depictions of young ballet dancers, ostensibly rendered via keyhole voyeurism. Failing to render accurately the rotary back motion of one of the dancers, Degas decided to solve the difficulty by sculpting the dancer in clay, which enabled him to capture the movement with precision. Only then did he resume painting. On that day he began sculpting, and even cast his sculptures in bronze, and today he is known as both a painter and a sculptor.
Benes's sculptures attest to her love for clay and the complex process of sculpting in bronze, which requires great skill and meticulous observation of all the preparatory stages. Concurrently, they also convey her train of thought and the love of man so typical of her. The sculptural subjects are human. Special attention is devoted to the sculptures of women, which reflect strength and independence, and at the same timeŚmaternal and conjugal softness. Female power is clearly discernible in the decision to sculpt women exercising, dancing, and drumming, and to dress them in colorful sports gear.
The couple sculptures convey beauty, love, compassion, friendship, and human closeness by means of precise, brave sculptural work. Benes's creative wisdom lends the hard bronze a soft, delicate appearance, and her optimism inspires each of the sculptures as well as the paintings.