Though Walead Beshty’s name may be difficult to pronounce, it’s certainly not hard to spot; the 38-year-old British artist seems to be cropping up everywhere. He’s had recent gallery exhibitions in New York and London, participated in museum shows from Dallas to Detroit to Denmark, and holds a strong record on the auction block as well.
His recent show in LA was an ambitious installation comprising various recent series. Working across media, in sculpture, photography, and found-object assemblage, Beshty seems not only enamoured with different ways of creating, but the potential for its change, evolution, even damage along the way.
Artist Walead Beshty; photo courtesy of the Whitney Museum
His so-called “photograms” are created in a darkroom using a deteriorating colour processor that tends to jam and misalign its output; the resulting pieces, composed of faultily-printed bands of colour are both imperfect and beautiful.
Photograms installed together with polished-aluminum floor sculpture; image courtesy of Regen Projects
In related works, Beshty displays dying machines—printers, scanners and computers—strung together or suspended in installations. They lurch and beep, vestiges of their formally productive lives briefly audible; they are tragic and somehow poignant in their current state of purgatory—not quite dead but no longer functional.
Skewered printers, scanners and computers, parts of which occasionally come alive
In a similar readymade vein but entirely different aesthetic are Beshty’s ceramic works, created during a stint spent working at Cerámico Suro in Guadlajara; using discarded byproducts of the studio’s artistic production, he has created Chamberlain-esque shapes that, according to the artist, suggest the monetization of human bodies.
Ceramic sculpture from a body of work created in Guadalajara, Mexico
Most impactful were large-scale industrial copper sheets folded in half, forming sculptures created to be mounted in specific crevices at the gallery—its floors, walls, even ceiling. Installing these heavy, sizable works would obviously take a fair deal of manipulation by art handlers, and it was Beshty’s specific wish that evidence of that handling be left on the sculpture—the story of each piece’s life written on its patina in perpetuity.
Industrial copper sheeting transformed into sculpture, handling marks visible on the edges like trails from its journey to the gallery floor