Salutary sculpture: Tonico Lemos Auad’s restorative art at Bexhill-On-Sea

Salutary sculpture: Tonico Lemos Auad’s restorative art at Bexhill-On-Sea

With its long rooms and square windows overlooking the sea, Bexhill’s De La Warr Pavilion is that rare thing in Britain: a masterpiece of modernist architecture. Its appeal, though, is by no means merely historical. For artists interested in spacious, minimalist presentation, settings don’t come much better than this.

Brazilian artist Tonico Lemos Auad has seized the opportunity beautifully, with a spritely yet refined range of sculptural objects. His self-titled show engages subtly not just with the gallery space, but with the natural environment and the community around it too.

As you enter, you are confronted with a cluster of linen poles, descending like woven stalactites from the ceiling, and echoing the gallery’s own elegant pillars. Past this, the space opens into a conversation between a series of intricate black panels, also in linen, and roughly hewn blocks of chalk dotted around the room.

These chalk sculptures are inspired by Pablo Neruda’s poem ’In the wave-strike over unquiet stones’, but they equally conjure the brilliant whiteness of the building and of the nearby cliffs. Similarly, in the last room, an assemblage of silver cans on the floor recalls the way beaches weather such detritus into readymade artworks.

But perhaps the most striking work here is Auad’s tiered herb garden. This, like his delicate textile pieces, is about healing and repair – something plants offer both socially and medicinally – and it captures the mood of the whole show. Auad’s use of space and natural light gives everything room to breathe, allowing its imaginative potential to grow.

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