MILAN.- Fondazione ICA Milano
announces the exhibition "Cheerfully Optimistic About the Future", the first solo show in Italy dedicated to Michael Anastassiades (Cyprus, 1967). The London-based designer opened his studio in 1994. His practice explores the contemporary notions of culture and aesthetic thought a combination of disciplines such as product design, interior design and environmental design, often transcending the distinctions between the different fields of creativity.
The ideation of the show, curated by Alberto Salvadori and developed by Anastassiades and his studio during the last year, has been accompanied by the desire to build a project characterized from the strong hand made feature for the realization of the works, involving in first person the artist and his collaborators.
The exhibition occupies two different spaces of the Fondazione: the external room and the ground floor of the main building. The first one, poetically named the Glossary room, hosts a carefully laid out display of things that the artist had unearthed in nature or sourced from his own collections. Together, they form a constellation of objects that, placed in careful relation to one another, are part of the syntax of the whole project. In the main exhibition space instead, disseminated alone, in couple or in small groups following specific volumes and spatial rhythm, appear several sculptures accurately refined, providing a delicate bright surface. The backbone of the works realization is the bamboo, a new material for Anastassiades studio, which represents a departure from its usual language of geometric, controlled forms while the base is made of poured pewter, a metal chosen for its low melting point. The works produced for the exhibition embrace the materials inherent irregularity, paired with an overall language of repeating, iterative configurations. Along with the use of natural materials such as bamboo or the linen thread, other details that do not try to hide the workings of the pieces are present, such as the exposed holders for the bulbs or the exposed connections and cables, elements that emphasize the dialogue between the components eliminating any possible hierarchy. According to Anastassiades minimalist aesthetic, the bulbs have the shape of pure cylinders of glass, which inevitably evoke the emblematic neon sculptures by Dan Flavin realized in the 60s.
Designed using an innovative typology of such material, these are the only element fully realized by external manufactures and are conceived by the artist as borrowed parts, hypothetically exchangeable with any other light system.
The elements of the works do not lose their status of design, artisanal and engineering objects. Through different techniques and disciplines at the same time, Anastassiades creates for the exhibition a hybrid choreography whose light elements modify and renovate the architectonical spaces of Fondazione ICA Milano.
Born in Cyprus in 1967, Michael Anastassiades moves in London in 1988 to study. He trained as a civil engineer at Londons Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine before taking a masters degree in industrial design at the Royal College of Art. He founded his studio in 1994, followed by his eponymous brand in 2007. During his career he conceived and realized lighting, furniture, objects and spatial design characterized by a poetics of rigor of the technological materials. His work is inspired by different sources that he distils in pure and simple structures: from nature to archaic references of his native Cyprus, from the history of modernism to personal memories, from art to daily life. Anastassiades evokes an immense imaginary of reference in order to transform it in a vocabulary of forms without time. Positioned between fine arts and design, his work aims to provoke dialogue, participation and interaction. His practice contemplates both the industrial production and the artisanal techniques; in such a union it expands itself in a vivid balance between improvisation and structure, control and intuition. International institutions have acquired his work in their permanent collections such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago, Victoria & Albert Museum, London; MAK, Wien, the Crafts Council of London; FRAC Centre of Orleans, France. His solo exhibitions include Norfolk House music room at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London (2010); Cyprus Presidency at the European Parliament of Brussels, Belgium (2011); Time and Again at the Geymüllerschlössel, MAK, Wien (2012); To Be Perfectly Frank, Svenskt Tenn, Stockholm (2013); Reload the Current Page, Point Centre for Contemporary Art, Nicosia (2014), Doings on Time and Light, Rodeo Gallery, Istanbul (2015), 13 Mobiles, Atelier Jesper, Belgium (2017), Things That Go Together, NiMAC, Nicosia (2019), Silver Tongued, SHOP Taka Ishii, Hong Kong (2019). In 2015 Anastassiades received the Royal Designer prize for Industry (RDI) from the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) as acknowledgement of his extraordinary contribution to design and society. He also received the prize Designer of the Year for Elle Decoration, the International Design Awards (2019), The Design Prize (2019) and the prize Maison&Objet (2020).