Paul Black Reviews Maisons Fragiles At Hauser And Wirth London

Paul Black

Hauser & Wirth London is currently presenting the work of nine artists in ‘Maisons Fragiles’, a group exhibition which explores themes of fragility, vulnerability and protection. The show includes work by Louise Bourgeois, Alexander Calder, Isa Genzken, Robert Gober, Eva Hesse, Roni Horn, Gordon Matta-Clark, Fausto Melotti and Richard Serra, with work that Spans 60 years of artistic practice, and focus on the artists joint preoccupation with sculptural materiality. Each exploiting the properties of their particular materials; creating a strong exhibition at Hauser & Wirth’s second space on Savile Row.

Louise Bourgeois’ work ‘Maisons Fragiles’ (1978), lends its name to the title of this exhibition, the work confronts the fragile psychology of Bourgeois’s youth, as with many of the artist’s work; the piece juxtaposes psychology and material usage through artistic practice exploring a fragile feminine terrain via interior and exterior of sculptural form and space.

Robert Gober’s work is transformative – manipulating the viewers physical reality – ‘Untitled (Bent Door)’ (1988) is a door which appears to be folding in on itself. It is installed broken to triangulate with the floor, and the viewer encounters it as an obstacle as they traverse around it and through the gallery space. Gober’s exploration of architecture and forms surrounding the notion of ‘home’ occurs through the subversion of everyday scenes resulting in the disquieting, and the unnerving; the functional rendered as object, as art, in this instance as refusal of the body.

Image: Gordon Matta-Clark, Splitting, 1974. Cibachrome print, © 2015 Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, DACS, London Courtesy Hauser & Wirth.

Isa Genzken’s work often explores Constructivist and Minimalist aesthetics, the artist’s concrete forms rest on special metal tables in which sculpture and display achieve a visual unity. described as Brutalist architectural models, Genzken, like Matta-Clark subverts the notion of the architectural, transforming its language into that of sculpture and redefining its relationship to the viewer.

Fausto Melotti’s ‘I lavandai (The Launderers)’ (1969) has a lyrical quality and approach to sculpture, like a weightless aerial drawing, with a lightness of material and tactility, the work articulates space in much the same way as Alexander Calder’s floating kinetic forms; space is the very essence of the work with ‘Untitled’ 1974, Juxtaposed with the weight of Genzken and the organic fragility of Hesse.

Roni Horn’s ‘Two Pink Tons’ (2008) playfully manipulates materiality juxtaposing the physical properties of glass with its translucence in terms of weight, highlighting the tension between solid and liquid, with a fixed temporal stillness. These alchemical qualities of the glass reflect the movement of the viewer like recently frozen pools of liquid formed into lozenges, as the work vibrates between states of being.

Image: Installation view: Isa Genzken, Fausto Melotti Courtesy Hauser & Wirth © 2015.

Gordon Matta-Clark’s ‘Splitting’ (1974), is the artist’s iconic rearrangement of a suburban house in New Jersey via Matta-Clark’s customary incision into the building. The chainsaw-wielding artist was well known for ‘building-cuts’ subverting architecture through intervention, transforming the building, fusing interior and exterior space through cut apertures and incisions. Matta-Clark transformed architecture into sculpture and installation via a performative act, resulting in a final photographic documentation.

The exhibition also presents work by the late great Eva Hesse, with works ‘Inside I’, in which the artist covers an open wooden box with painted grey papier-mache, with a tangle of painted cords, wire and twine, at its base. ‘Inside II’ is a similar sculptural form that holds two amorphous weights wrapped in paper bound with cord. Hesse brought a figurative fragility to what appeared to be a juxtaposition between minimalism and abstract sculpture. For the artist material was always an inherent concern resulting in an expressive minimalism and material conceptuality, a traditionally German contemporary sculptural concern with an added poetry of form.

Richard Serra’s work explores the spatial relationships between object, environment and viewer with the artist’s ‘Untitled’ 1975. Serra uses material to investigate weight, balance and the relationship with space, often dividing environments as interventions with the human form, the artist’s work often reflects the temporal nature of art via the patina of rust adding a fourth dimension; that of time, the temporal aspects of object and body.

Artists: Louise Bourgeois, Alexander Calder, Isa Genzken, Robert Gober, Eva Hesse, Roni Horn, Gordon Matta-Clark, Fausto Melotti, Richard Serra.

Words: Paul Black. Lead Image: Roni Horn, Two Pink Tons (A), 2008. Photo: P A Black © Artlyst 2016.

Maisons Fragiles – Hauser & Wirth London – until 6 Feb 2016.


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