Zane Bennett Gallery is proud to announce “Ruminative Figures,” an exhibition of sculpture by Dunham Aurelius. The opening is Friday, November 15th at the gallery, 435 South Guadalupe Street, across from the rail station, from 5:00 - 7:00 pm. The artist will be present.
Dunham Aurelius, a sculptor residing in Santa Fe, works in a variety of materials from cast bronze, to wood, clay, wax, steel and found objects. His works may be informed by his world awareness and interest in primitive art, but they leave the viewer with the last word. Aurelius has been making art for over 15 years and has developed a fragile and paradoxically visceral mark to his work. Dunham finds a natural and genuine aesthetic in tribal and primitive works from Africa, Oceana, and the Pacific Northwest. In this work, he feels, not only is the figure more genuine, but the act of creating is part of all aspects of life of that maker. In this sense, when Western art tries to replicate indigenous arts, without this same sense of total involvement in the work, it becomes stiff and uninformed.
Aurelius has found his way. Though he considers certain themes as influences, he states that it is more about a “global awareness.” That awareness of other cultures and other suffering is what makes Aurelius’s work so genuine and natural. Aurelius’s process is one of emotion and awareness. He does not sketch. He finds that in approaching a new piece, it can be a time to put his mind aside and really “feel through the work.”
Aurelius’s approach is the same when approaching a new tool or material. He experiments with it; he finds sometimes the best work comes from mistakes or pieces he has set aside. Often he will leave a work outside for a time and let nature have its hand in the appearance of the work.
The most striking thing about Dunham Aurelius and his work is that he wants the viewer to interpret it and to ruminate over it. He likens this to “hearing music without words,” in that the interpretation is not led by any statement. Once the music has words, then the listener is forced into an interpretation. Viewing art is truly subjective and Aurelius stresses that, though we all like stories, the work does not need to be presented with a fixed narrative. In approaching his work from that direction, it is less likely to alienate and instead embraces each person’s singular interpretation.
Aurelius’s work shows a full range of emotions that do not necessarily need to correlate with the themes that interest him. What interests him are the people who interact with his work. Aurelius states that what he finds most beautiful is not the tangible, but the relationships between people. This is a direct underlining of his awareness of the world around him. To see the world that is dark and the world that is light simultaneously is honest and genuine, and this way of seeing reflects brightly through Dunham Aurelius’s sculpture. That inevitable and beautiful paradox of humanity – great pain and great joy – was eloquently described by Virginia Woolf: “The beauty of the world has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder.” Dunham Aurelius’s work dances between both edges – something that all can understand.