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Review: Ceniztanos 

Mixed-media work by Joshua Edward Bennett at Good Children Gallery

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Is contemporary physics overshadowing religion and philosophy? While most science sticks to matters tangible and quantifiable, modern theoretical physics often overlaps with the traditional metaphysical beliefs of Buddhism, Hinduism and Taoism. Throw in Albert Einstein's attempts to find a Grand Unified Theory — his so-called "theory of everything" — and parallels with religion seem obvious. Visual art has always reflected the influence of science, religion and mythology, but very few artists have attempted a "theory of everything," which is what makes the range of Joshua Edward Bennett's Ceniztanos works at Good Children Gallery so unexpected. His exhibition concerns "symbols and their arbitrary and/or universal meaning, ritual/ ceremony, psychedelic visions, global connectivity on a psychic level, sacred geometry, awe, timelines, wonder, mechanical spirituality, tonal equilibrium and fascination with the other." Quietly unassuming at first glance, his mixed-media concoctions are woven together in an improbably coherent fashion.

Crafted from precisely cut and painted aluminum and plywood, these polished constructions reflect design motifs ranging from Pythagorean geometry to Peruvian textile patterns. Elements of both appear in works like Ceybaiyi (pictured), the mysteriously iconic vibes of which recall the antiquity-based modernism of the Art Deco design movement of the 1920s, as well as a diagram I once saw in a BMW motorcycle repair manual. Yet more mind-bending are simpler compositions like Woxi and Swonaa Naoxi, cube and conduitlike forms that play visual tricks if your eyes linger on them, not unlike the optical illusionist art of M.C. Escher. More complex concoctions like Biydwa Fosajic suggest ancient computer circuit boards inexplicably recovered from the ruins of Machu Picchu. Bennett also composed a dronelike electronic music soundtrack that accompanies the show, and if Ceniztanos doesn't quite equate to a grand unified theory of everything, it wades further into those deep and murky waters than most artists dare to contemplate, and we can only wonder what Einstein might have thought had he lived to visit 21st-century St. Claude Avenue.

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