Between Fragility and Permanence

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In Lera Auerbach’s kaleidoscopic universe of art, we encounter a mesmerizing dance between contrasts and consonance, where the cerebral and the sensual are forever interlocked in a symbiotic choreography. It’s a  space of unparalleled artistic ingenuity, where intellectual rigour coexists with emotional resonance and transcends the boundaries that often isolate individual mediums like sculpture, music, and literature. Each element of her work—whether a bronze sculpture or a literary composition—serves as a branch in her expansive tree of creative life, contributing to an overarching narrative that is as multifaceted as it is interconnected.

 Her sculptures emanate from an intuitive core that remains refreshingly untouched by the confining norms of formal academic paradigms. Auerbach’s work is driven by the sum of her life experiences. A pivotal point was the devastating fire that consumed her New York home and studio in 2009, destroying her library, music manuscripts, personal possessions, art collection, and concert grand piano. Rising from the ashes, she found in the act of sculpting a cathartic outlet for her intense emotional and psychological state. This artistic pilgrimage serves as a testament to her resilience, a celebration of the renewal that emerges from confronting one’s own fragility and ephemerality.

 In a fascinating play of material and theme, her sculptures are often cast in bronze—a metal symbolizing strength, permanence, and immutability. This choice serves as a compelling counterpoint to her exploration of life’s fragility, impermanence, and transience. Each piece is a tangible manifestation of this tension, a delicate equilibrium between antithetical forces. They become arenas in which raw emotional energy and conceptual rigour collide, resulting in an alchemic transformation that elevates the ordinary into the extraordinary.

 While offering deep dives into the layers of the human psyche, her works simultaneously function as mirrors reflecting her own complex self. Each sculpture encapsulates her personal experiences as much as it vibrates with universal resonance, pulsing with the audacious vitality that defines our era. More than just aesthetic pieces, they invite the observer into a journey through the labyrinthine complexities of human emotions, intellectual considerations, and social narratives.

 Moreover, Auerbach’s art carries an additional layer of significance born from her roots. Born near the region scarred by the radioactive contamination accident at the Mayak plutonium production plant, her works contain an inescapable ecological undertone. They are both an expression and a warning, absorbing and reflecting the environmental issues that are integral to the zeitgeist she inhabits.

 Auerbach’s sculptural universe is, in essence, an intricate tapestry that weaves together diverse threads: personal history, emotional intensity, material dialectics, social commentary, and intellectual depth. The result is an evocative narrative that engages in an ongoing internal dialogue, linking the past to the present, the personal to the universal, and the abstract to the tangible. This dynamic interplay across her body of work marks Auerbach as a unique voice in the contemporary art world—a voice that is as compelling as it is complex and as relevant as it is timeless.

Text by: Ilona Oltuski