Carved out of rigid stone, London-born, Los Angeles-based sculptor Nevine Mahmoud’s latest collection of fluid, sinuous figures ooze with suggestive eroticism. Currently on view at M+B Gallery and titled f o r e p l a y, this series sees Mahmoud add a much-needed feminine element to this traditionally male-dominated medium.
Renowned for her figurative and floral work, the artist’s debut solo exhibition at M+B plays with the viewer’s expectations through anticipation, implied sexuality, and symbolic design. Each sculptural object here looks as if it could be functional upon first glance. However, these pieces are stripped of context and utility, bringing up issues of bodily objectification.
Here we see nearly a dozen salacious sculptures alluding to a wide variety of sexual acts with a saucy sense of humor. In “Lick” (2017), a rosy pink onyx tongue protrudes into the viewer’s space. Installed at eye level, this risqué appendage is curled upwards as if we are witnessing the movement of the act itself.
Another homage to human sexuality is “Mother Milk” (2017), a smooth, oval-shaped piece of milky white marble with a magenta nipple adhered to one end. Resembling both an egg and a breast, this sculpture celebrates the female form and fertility.
Effortlessly laid out in the middle of the gallery floor is this collection’s steamy centerpiece, 2017’s “Primary Encounter (pink tensions).” These two commanding blocks of blush-colored marble resemble puzzle pieces as one block features a hole and the other, a peg. This pair is kept apart, amping up the anticipation. The palpable distance and expectation felt here is mirrored in the spacing out of the letters of the show’s title and implies an unseen bond between these two inanimate objects.
Like the ancient myth of the Pygmalion, the viewer subconsciously anthropomorphizes these blocks of stone, using the imagination to create personalities, narratives, and fantasies surrounding these sculptures. F o r e p l a y reveals that human lust and attraction largely lives in the mind. The brain takes the slightest implication and runs wild with desire.
Nevine Mahmoud: f o r e p l a y
Through January 6, 2018
612 North Almont Drive
Los Angeles, California 90069