Mmm, how to describe a Helaine Blumenfeld sculpture. Drunk fungi? Coy pencil sharpenings? Oyster innards? The result of a misguided angel breeding programme?
These works are, perhaps, unnerving for their lack of definition and their preternatural essence. There’s something Walking Dead about them – that signature collage of grotesque corporeal flaps – yet also full of life and vibrancy.
If they were green and grew in the Amazon, they would likely lure monkeys by means of a grape-like nodule that sent the unsuspecting meat parcel chuting into an acid tube.
Canary Wharf has its own Blumenfeld in Jubilee Park – Fortuna, 2016, in bronze. The Canary Wharf website suggests it “evokes the fullness and complexity of the human condition”. To us it resembles two pre-op super-slimmers getting jiggy with it before the apronectomy. But that’s just us. We had many appetites on the go during our observation.
If you could smell her abstracts, they would whiff of truffles and Aunt Doris – something earthy, intimate and unsettling.
The point is, people will have a chance to wander around Blumenfeld’s fertile garden when her biggest solo exhibition to date – Looking Up –comes to Canary Wharf (16 March–26 June). She will present 25 sculptures in her signature materials of marble, terracotta, cedar wood and bronze.
What Helaine Blumenfeld says
Helaine said, “The opportunity to exhibit my sculpture in Canary Wharf is, in many ways, the culmination of efforts I’ve made throughout my career to bring sculpture into public spaces where it can affect people in their daily lives.
“I hope my sculptures will offer the millions of workers and visitors who pass through Canary Wharf the opportunity to look up and see the world that surrounds them, elevating their spirits and creating a shared sense of community.”
Helaine herself was born in 1942 grew up outside New York and gained a scholarship to Oxford. She studied sculpture in Paris and says she sources the raw material of her work from her subconscious. She was made an honorary OBE in 2011 and has enjoyed a 50+ year career as one of the leading contemporary sculptors in Britain.
She says, “My hope is to reawaken the world to beauty, not just through my work but through all means possible. Beauty brings people together.”
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