Mexican artist Martin Soto Climent is presenting an intriguing show entitled Temazcal at Michael Benevento’s Los Angeles gallery.
For this show, Soto Climent unveils an expansive body of new works inspired by the spiritual transfiguration found in the ancient Mesoamerican steam baths during rituals known as “Temazcal.”
Typically held in stone igloos charred by burnt wood and swirling vapors, Temazcal is a ceremony performed over several centuries by healers to those seeking spiritual uplifting. With this show, Soto Climent navigates the viewer through the gallery’s four rooms documenting the beloved tradition in depth.
The exhibition begins with a large projected slide show of 515 black and white images where the viewer gets a glimpse of the daily life of Don Pedro, a spiritual healer whose humble way of living was the inspiration for the show. The exhibition continues with numerous objects including a charred wooden egg (“Moonlight,” 2018), a cascading hide of black feathers (“Dark Flame”, 2018) a burnt upturned dragon sculpture (Serpiente Emlumada, 2018), a half-burnt bundle of leaning sticks (Flechazo, 2018) and the artist’s signature stretched tights compositions on a charred black wooden frame (Cacoon for a Dragon, 2018.) The last part of the exhibition features a gold leafed pot (Secreto, 2018) given to Soto Climent by Don Pedro. This charred metal pot was used to hold treasure buried within the Temazcal ceremony. Across from the pot, on the opposite wall is a mesmerizing video of a fire burning (La Puerta, 2018) where loud noises of animals and twigs crackling can be heard. The noises reverberate throughout the room and engulf the entire exhibition.
Soto Climent is best known for his surrealist manipulation of images and objects. His practice refers to the forms of the body and the psychology of desire embedded within a consumer based economy. For Soto Climent this psychology extends into the spiritual realms of being. Temazcal articulates the energies that connect the spirit to material form.
Soto Climent lives and works in Mexico City. His work has been featured in many exhibitions around the world including the Frieze Art Fair in London in 2016.
At Michael Benevento, 3712 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, through Mar. 17. The gallery is open Tue.-Sat. from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.