Aaron Lee Benson’s It’s About to Kill Me

ArtspaceThe bold forms of Aaron Lee Benson’s sculptures embody apocalyptic ruin. Distressed arches and stalagmite-like forms appear to have been excavated like vastly eroded fragments from a classical temple. These ceramic works seem to emerge directly from the earth itself. Upon close inspection, his pieces are carefully modeled, scraped, reworked and then meticulously glazed to give them their rich, tactile, aged appearance. Always in Benson’s sculpture there is a sense of strong gesture, assertive form and, most especially, exquisite surface texture that breathes life into the work.

In his most recent sculptures, Benson deals much more directly with the figure as he focuses on the theme of death and its philosophical underpinnings. For Benson, death is a fact that marks an irrational end to life. One piece, “Death Sucks,” portrays a life-size, mummy-like figure encrusted in a shallow arched space suggestive of a coffin. Its most striking featurea bright pink hueshocks us and examines the dangers of ignoring our mortality. Benson has referred to his figures as martyrs, and we do get the sense that they are voyagers into a solitary purgatorial space. His show, which closes this Friday at 10 p.m., is open today and tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visit www.artspacenc.org/gallery_one.html. Dave Delcambre