chicago’s gray warehouse presents nocturne, a solo show of new sculptures by spanish artist jaume plensa. debuting nine of the artist’s latest works in stone, glass, steel, and bronze, the exhibition explores plensa’s range and mastery of sculptural portraiture.
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jaume plensa’s nocturne draws from the night, navigating the symbolic dichotomy between darkness and light. the new pieces are presented in a gradient of material density, which begins with a sculpture crafted from black basalt and bronze, and concludes with a light, ethereal figures in stainless steel and murano glass. contemplating the extraordinary challenges of the present day in these terms, plensa maintains, ‘no matter how long the night, the morning always comes.’ whether embracing or opposing the intrinsic qualities of his materials, plensa’s exhibition of sculptural portraits symbolizes the potential for hope to emerge from a place of total darkness.
visitors are welcomed by minna, a nine-foot-tall portrait depicting a young woman with her eyes closed in a state of repose. made with dark basalt stone, this is the artist’s largest work in the medium to date. the show continues with a series of five bronze portraits — anna, irma, laura, lou and rui rui. they have been arranged in such way that it feels as if they were in a silent dialogue, with each bronze head presenting a uniquely textured surface which results from using the same molds the artist uses to form his steel mesh figures.
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the two largest works in the exhibition are the most ethereal: rui rui and julia. delicately bent stainless steel wires construct them, delineating the faces of pleas’a subjects while simultaneously wavering in and out of legibility. the materiality of the sculptures offer the illusion of a weightless form, fabricating and rendering otherwise monumental works into light, airy apparitions. as plensa explains, ‘every time I do a portrait, soon after, in a way, the person no longer exists.’
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