Lesley Bodzy: The Soft Embrace
Curated by Anna Stothart
526 West 26th Street #704
October 13 - December 2, 2023
Opening reception: Thursday, October 12, 6:00-8:00pm
Public talk: Thursday, November 9, 6:30-8:00pm
Exhibition open Fridays and Saturdays noon-6pm, or by appointment.
Lesley Bodzy (lives and works in NYC and Houston) is a sculptor and painter who engages history, materiality, and abstraction to give form and visibility to psychologically complex dimensions. Employing varied media including acrylic, velvet, plastic, silicone, bronze, and resin, and techniques such as 3d printing, casting, pouring, and layering, Bodzy explores the endless possibilities of expression through abstract gesture and material manipulation. For her premier exhibition in New York City, Bodzy worked closely with independent curator Anna Stothart to select key works from the last 3 years. The exhibition will feature some of the artist’s most iconic works including her large-scale sculptural paintings from her Folds of Desire series and a selection of bronzes from her Relic series, among others.
Trauma, loss and desire are recurring themes that emerge throughout Bodzy’s practice and become legible through the artist’s profound curiosity with materials, processes, and the resulting metaphorical / expressive potential. In her Folds of Desire series, Bodzy uses gold acrylic paint as a sculptural substance, adding chemicals that allow her to control the form through draping, stretching, and layering. In works like Soft Embrace I (2022), the gold acrylic behaves like a tapestry held up from behind. The phantom figure one imagines standing behind the work is simultaneously ominous and comforting in its offer of a “soft embrace.” This series of sculptural paintings recall the ornate characteristics of Baroque painting and architecture in their sensuous richness, drama, movement, tension and emotional exuberance. Each work is presented as a featured character, representing the abstract embodiment of a gesture, emotion, or physical form. For Bodzy, these experimental and intuitive decisions are performed as a way to simultaneously acknowledge and exorcize the past, both the collective and the personal.
Bodzy employs a multitude of processes in order to achieve sumptuous textural surfaces. In With Every Single Breath (2022), she creates nine unique blue-gray plastic filament printed objects that hang in a group on the wall. Each form is created using a 3-D print of a common crumpled paper bag. The result is a bodily abstraction that when repeated over and over again creates a formal echo that shifts ever so slightly from one to the next. Bodzy transforms the bag through a process akin to metamorphosis–the malleability and resistance of the material guide her towards a subject and meaning that emerges through the act of creation. The delicate yet resistant surfaces of With Every Single Breath, create new and unpredictable associations and challenge our assumptions around vulnerability, restraint, and strength.
The titles of Bodzy’s works offer a point of departure to guide rather than define the meaning behind each. Though the work is biographical in nature, the aesthetic language leaves interpretation open to the viewer. Often utilizing bold colors and seductive materials, each piece draws attention to the overlooked and barely perceptible elements of our everyday life. Her cast bronze series, Relic (2022), is composed of a series of forms cast from a manipulated thick paper cloth used for cleaning. The ubiquitous object memorialized in blue-green, gold, and sea-green bronze invites an alternative reading of an object typically used and then discarded. Taking cues from pioneers of sculptural abstraction of the 1970s–Lynda Benglis’ pour paintings, Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party, and Louise Nevelson’s manipulation of the everyday, to name a few–Bodzy blurs the boundaries between relief, sculpture, and painting, and embraces the imperfect and experimental.
Lesley Bodzy and independent curator Anna Stothart will be in conversation about the exhibition and Bodzy’s practice on Thursday, November 9th at 6:30pm at 526 West 26th Street #704.
About the Artist
Lesley Bodzy holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BA from Mount Holyoke College. She also studied at Hunter College and the Art Students League of New York. Her work is represented by galleries in Houston, TX, Saugerties, NY, Williamsburg, VA, and Jersey City, NJ and has been exhibited widely across the United States and abroad. Past exhibitions include SPRING/BREAK Art Show NYC 2022, ChaShaMa and Sculptors Alliance in New York City, Holy Art Gallery in London, UK, Site:Brooklyn, Emerge Gallery in Saugerties, NY, the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury, CT, the Susquehanna Art Museum in Harrisburg, PA, and the Meadows Gallery in Tyler, TX. Recent press includes Art Houston Magazine, Cultbytes, Art Fuse, and Art Spiel.
About the Curator
Anna Stothart is an independent curator and the co-founder of Davila-Villa & Stothart (DVS), an organization devoted to supporting artists, as well as expanding across the globe the cultural and art historical understanding of underrepresented artists. She was Curatorial Director of Lehmann Maupin (2016–2020) where she provided curatorial support for the represented artists, organized group exhibitions, and was the museum liaison for the gallery. Previously, Stothart served as the Brown Foundation Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the San Antonio Museum of Art (2015–2016) and Assistant Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (2009–2015). She received her master’s degree in Art History and Museum Studies from Tufts University. Stothart served as a core seminar leader of the Interdisciplinary Art and Theory Program, New York, NY from 2020 through 2021.