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In Plato’s Symposium, Aristophanes explains that humans originated as pairs of lovers unified in a single being, only to be split in half by the gods.1 Here, love can be understood as an innate desire to reconjoin and return to our original state: “Now, since their natural form had been cut in two, each one longed for its own other half,” says Aristophanes.2 Entanglements, a two-person exhibition by married artists Louise Bonnet and Adam Silverman on view at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Hollyhock House, echoes Plato’s sentiment. Both artists present works that express a bodily desire for togetherness that is whimsical and grotesque. Across the show, intentional defects on otherwise-impeccable stoneware vessels imply eerie incompletion, while images of squeezing limbs communicate a violent longing for sweet embrace. In the repetition of these motifs, Bonnet and Silverman propose a new visual lexicon for the duality of romantic relationships, exposing love in all of its hopes and flaws.
Perched on a ledge near the front entrance of the home, Silverman’s ceramic work, Entangled (2018), is an exquisitely constructed vessel with a tumor-like orb adhered to its spout. Its off-white glaze appears fragile, as if it were flaking off—the crackle adds both beauty and precarity. Across the show, flaws are an integral part of Silverman’s vernacular. A large vessel adorned with two bulbous nodes, also titled Entangled (2023), is Silverman’s largest sculpture in the exhibition. One of the large abscesses, supported from below by a metal bar, has a rougher surface and contains a mouth-shaped crack mended with stitch-like bands of clay. These imperfections contrast the second bauble, which has a smooth, undisturbed surface. Likewise, the roughly two-foot-tall Tide Jar (2023), installed in the living room, shares Entangled’s fissure and reparative strip motifs and sits beside another nearly flawless vessel by the same name (Tide Jar, 2022). Silverman mirrors these pairs, their contrasts made evident through proximity. Like Aristophanes’ speech, in which wounds are meant to remind the individual of their lost other half, Silverman’s sculptures exhibit imperfections, perhaps indicating that we are forever marked by romantic partnership.
Though we are aware of love’s risk—its potential to wound—we are often still overcome with an undeniable desire for closeness. (“They would throw their arms about each other, weaving themselves together, wanting to grow together,”3 Aristophanes proclaims.) Across the exhibition, Bonnet’s paintings highlight this yearning. Hanging at the south end of the Hollyhock’s interior walkway, Bonnet’s painting Hollyhock Green (2022) depicts a pair of disembodied, intertwined hands that sit on a table draped in golden fabric against an emerald backdrop. Gravely enmeshed, the hands squeeze together so tightly that they bulge at the force of their mutual embrace. In the living room, Bonnet’s Hollyhock Gold (2022) also features a pair of bulbous fists grasping each other; this time, two long fingers point toward the left of the canvas as if to divert the viewer’s gaze from this display of desperate intimacy. If Silverman’s sculptures focus on the ways that the individual can be changed by romantic partnership, Bonnet shows lovers unabashedly coming together —exposing romantic connection in all of its intimate (though sometimes gruesomely codependent) glory.
While Bonnet and Silverman’s pieces differ in medium, the two bodies of work presented in Entangelements deploy color to communicate their shared themes, using the Hollyhock House as a kind of intermediary. Bonnet’s Untitled (2023), the only work on paper in the exhibition, depicts a pair of mauve hands against a teal background—both hues are similar to those found in the vivid carpet of Hollyhock’s study. The brown tone of a sleeve shown in the drawing also recalls the deep hazel coloration of another of Silverman’s Tide Jar (2023) works, which stood only a few feet away. Back in the living room, the golden brown tones of Bonnet’s Hollyhock Gold ripple across the house’s wood floor and up through Silverman’s Entangled (Reading Room) (2022). When viewed from afar, the eye easily connects Silverman’s umber piece, in which the pour spouts of two vessels kiss each other atop a walnut table, with the ocher drapery behind the loving embrace of Bonnet’s painted hands. These chromatically coupled moments across Entanglements unite the two disparate bodies of work.
Much like Plato’s ancient myth, Bonnet and Silverman illustrate irresistible, turbulent intimacy. In the domestic space of Hollyhock House, viewing Entanglements feels like eavesdropping on the intimate ebbs and flows experienced within the snares of love.
This review was originally published in Carla issue 32.