Patricia Ayres constructs, fabricates, fashions, extraordinary presence out of the most unassuming materials. Her sculptures are typically armatures of wood and foam that are then wrapped in the stuff of clothing manufacture such as elastic synthetic and cotton, in a variety of wide swaths and smaller strips, often resembling bandages. The resultant anthropomorphic “figures” take on multiple poses, from the recumbent to the stridently erect. The range of art historical figurative associations range from Rodin’s Balzac monument to Hans Bellmer’s “poupee” sculptures, but also to the foam sculptures of John Chamberlain. The additional aspects of their sometimes belted restraints unavoidably call forth the S/M aesthetic of Nancy Grossman, but their careful yet spontaneous suturing seems closer to Lee Bontecou’s-more of a fabricated translation of somatic form than a anecdotal representation of such. The abject quality of their complex wrapping, ambiguously stained as they are in oils and paint, evokes a surprisingly empathetic response in the viewer, as if respectful of the experience and struggle such an accumulation of apparently random markings imply. What’s truly remarkable about Ayres’ sculptures is that they ultimately, with the proper amount of contemplation given to them, transform the ostensibly abject into the profoundly beautiful.

Tom McGlynn

Editor at Large

The Brooklyn Rail