Magdalena Wisniowska

“Me is ter” is Tim Bennett’s second exhibition at the Galerie Jo van de Loo. The title is a reworking
of the one given to his previous exhibition, “Time is a Waste” (Time is a waste) – “Time is a Waste”
also being the title of the group of three sculptures occupying the middle of the space. In addition, the
exhibition features four framed pictures, from the ongoing series “Conspiracy Clouds” as well as some
smaller pieces located at the back. With its soft pastel colours, the work looks fresh, clean, and also,
curiously modernist.
The sculptures are made of Carrera marble. The surface of the free-standing blocks has been partly
chipped away and then reassembled, so that the block becomes the plinth supporting the abstract
reconfiguration of fragments. The pictures are also modernist in quality, perhaps even more so than the
sculptures, despite consisting of materials (wallpaper, plasterboard and gypsum) associated more with
craft or trade than fine art. Wet plaster is poured through the cracked, papered plasterboard and left to
settle, much the way Jackson Pollock would produce his drip paintings or Picasso show off his skills on
glass. Together the works bring to mind a very modernist discourse, with the meister/artist as the
genius who produces his meister/work, his masterpiece.
We think of genius as an inherently modernist trope, embodied in the originality attributed to the figure
of the avant-garde artist. As such it is also one of the most discredited, with Rosalind Krauss’s
dismissal at the forefront of poststructuralist critique. While in “Me is ter” Tim Bennett courts
modernist ideas of genius, his work also demands its reassessment. According to its modernist
interpretation, originality is key, the work being as unique as the individual self that has produced it.
But in a more recent re-reading of Kant’s theory of genius, the emphasis on the principle of creativity is
no longer limited to the individual self, because its no longer limited to the unified human subject.
Genius is the talent of production for which no determinate rule can be given. Indeed, the artist himself
is not to know how the work will become.
The creativity characteristic of Tim Bennett’s work is of a kind that lends itself to this more recent
interpretation. Unlike the constructions of the modernist avant-garde, the work’s humour is selfdeprecating.
Its originality does not lie in the figure of the avant-garde artists, although given its title,
“Me is ter,” it does play on such heroics. Underneath the plasterboard, Tim Bennett cannot see what
he pours; he elevates to the status of sculpture the pieces of broken marble that the artist would usually
discard. By stepping away from the authorship of the work, he gains the freedom associated with the
Kantian type of creativity. His “Conspiracy clouds,” like the crystal formations Kant uses as an
example of a lack of production rules, encourage the imagination to wonder. Without needing to come
to any given conclusion, they do not have a concept as a determining basis. Very gently and with
humour, Tim Bennett shows us what happens when genius is no longer solely embodied by the person
behind the artist.

Magdalena Wisniowska, 2016