“Charisma Carpenter” (2019) Steel, plastic, zip-ties, rubber tubing, bobby pins and other materials 39 × 39 × 7 in. 

From “Space Vixens” at the Lomex Gallery, New York

Space Cowboy: The Artist Robert Bittenbender

It was a year ago last May that this writer ventured to Lomex Gallery to see “Space Vixens”, a solo show featuring the work of sculptor Robert Bittenbender.  Three of his designs were showing concurrently at the Whitney Biennial. Dense and compact, his wall fabrications combined wire, plastic, zip-ties, dime-store jewelry, an errant lightbulb and other cast-off detritus. They carried echoes of Lucas Samaras’ early sculptures for their incorporation of found objects and hints of Judith Scott for their intertwined wrapped obsessions. Meticulously crafted, the ensembles retained a freshness for their sense of surprise and drew the viewer in for closer inspection. 

The Lomex Gallery, incidentally located a floor down from its initial location in Eva Hesse’s former studio, occupies the apartment directly below. Still retaining its’ appearance of a former apartment, it proved an ideal backdrop to take in what The New York Times described as “trash-and-treasure-infested wire snarls” (“The Whitney Biennial: Young Art Cross-Stitched With Politics” The New York Times May 16, 2019).

Left: “Mott Heaven” (2016) / Right: “Sister Carrie” (2017) Mixed media

At the Whitney Biennial,  The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York  2019

“Sister Carrie” and “Mott Heaven” resemble the hollowed out edifices of an imploded construction site or the intricacy of a birds nest. A viewer spies wire, wood, bits of kitchen tile, a filter, tubing, and a copper pipe.  It would not be incongruent to find washing machine parts or a fan belt woven in but such is the genius of this young talent.

Slide 1: “Homeless to Haverford”, (2019) Steel, plastic, leather, chains, cardboard, and other materials. 56 × 28 × 15 in. / Slide 2: “Homeless…” and  “Pennys From Heaven”, (2019) Steel, plastic, pegboard, photographs, rubber tubing, and other materials. 60 × 48 × 11 in.  / Slide 3:Hunger Artist Games” ( 2019) Steel, plastic, pegboard, metal letters, neon lights, and other materials. 36 × 50 × 13 in.

Slide 1: Detail of “Charisma Carpenter” / Slides 2: Detail of “Charisma Carpenter” / Slide 3: Detail of Hunger Artist Games

Slide 1:Sacral Chakra/Epispasm Avenue”, (2019) Steel, plastic, zip-ties, peg-board, photographs, lights, and other materials. 44 × 46 × 9 in.

The Lomex Gallery, New York