If from ancient times to the modern era, artists had garnered renown for their technical mastery of one single material, the avant-gardes rejection of hierarchies opened the gates to the democratization of materials, regardless of the preconceived ideas attributed to their nature. Ever since the forging of this revolutionary shift, the cohesion of different components progressively gained recognition amongst artists. Radical languages were discovered, as the combining of materials that were in apparent contradiction became the core of sculptural practice.
is presenting Combining Materials, the third themed exhibition held at the gallery this year. Featuring a selection of sculptural works, the show illustrates how the juxtaposition of unlikely materials responds to the formal experiments voiced by a diverse range of contemporary artists.
The works by American artist Leonardo Drew, who is mostly known for his monumental wood pieces and memory-invoking use of materials, incorporate assortments of found objects and discarded materials affixed to a paper surface. Conceived as wall-based assemblages, these pieces juxtapose the wild and the structured hinging on the unlikelihood of large chunks of wood and metal being mounted on creased and worn sheets of paper.
Keita Miyazakis sculptures and installations feature materials whose association would immediately suggest strident discord and unfamiliar visual language. Discarded car engine components are welded together and then combined with coloured origami-like folded paper and sewn felt, fashioning sculptures of beguiling contradiction and unique aesthetic intrigue. The pairing of solid and universal materials like metal with light, delicate paper evokes a sense of post-apocalyptic reconciliation.
Brazilian artist Tullio Pinto also combines unlikely bed-fellows, such as glass, steel, marble and rope in his elaborately staged compositions which explore tension, compression and balance. Pushing the inherent limits of materials by juxtaposing implausible elements, his practice explores untapped forms of perception where transformation and the research of a highly improbable balance results in viewers reconsidering their understanding of the world.
Unconcerned with the contrasting dialectic between fragile and robust materials which to some extent characterizes the above-mentioned artists, yet still conceiving unusual hybrid sculptures, Italian artist Alice Cattaneo defines her practice in the friction generated by the relationship between different materials in their raw state. The irreconcilability of forms urges the artist to propose original structural solutions in her continual striving for a renewed formal experimentation. The initial mental visualization of the projected work undergoes a radical change once the realization is embarked upon.
Stone Effect: The Language of Living by British artist Felicity Hammond pushes the possibilities of conflicting elements to a further level blending sculptural forms with photography in a composite multi-layered installation. Photography is here stripped of its traditional two-dimensional connotation, disputing the distinction between medium and materiality as it fluidly dangles from the copper structures and stretches out across the wall or dots the floor. The physical solidity of copper rods and concrete stones coalesce with the malleable plasticity of inkjet printed photographs onto vinyl, situating the work somewhere between the archaic and the futuristic.
The British artist Jane Bustin approaches materiality through a vocation for painting, although in her wallbased works painting becomes sculptural. Bustin combines a cornucopia of different, often antagonistic, elements such as bone, cloth, bleach, gesso, tea and wax paper amongst others. The artist cites XVth century Florentine master Masaccio as one of her primary influences. The extraordinarily tactile and rich surfaces of fresco painting echo her fascination for materiality, moreover the profound simplicity of the Renaissance artists compositions finds a strong resonance in the emotional clarity of Bustins artworks.
Combining Materials is a further reflection in the gallerys continual preoccupation with how contemporary artists have taken up the baton from previous centuries, in their attempts to push the exploration of pure form into new unchartered waters.