On Friday 23 June Portuguese, Berlin-based, artist Leonor Antunes opened her latest exhibition Leonor Antunes: the apparent length of a floor area which runs from 24 June to 08 October at Fruitmarket
Edinburgh. Antunes engages with traditions of modernist art, architecture and design through sculpture made and displayed with the specifics of a given place in mind. The forms and materials of her sculptures reference a history of modernism embedded in the work of its less visible protagonists; overlooked, often female, artists and designers. This cast of historical companions enters Antunes work in enigmatic ways through an echo of form or measurement, or the replication of a particular knot, hinge, colour or material infusing it with their spirit and sensibility. Recent research has led Antunes to the work of architect, designer and writer Sadie Speight, whose collaborations with her husband Leslie Martin included the Royal Festival Hall in London and a house in Cumbria for textile designer Alistair Morton of Edinburgh Weavers. Cork, a traditional Portuguese material Antunes has used frequently in her previous work, now has a different resonance for her, inspired by Speights extensive use of it in her interiors.
Antuness vision for her exhibition at the Fruitmarket turns around a cork floor-piece engraved with a pattern taken from the work of Marian Pepler, an architect and designer who is known for the modern rugs she produced in the 1930s. Such points of reference build on Antuness extensive engagement with Latin American mid-century modernists like Brazilian architect Lino bo Bardi and sculptor Mira Schendel. The exhibition explores many of these trajectories, as they become entangled together in her work, creating multiple conversations between past and present and across continents. Antuness sculptural installations, which often draw on artisanal techniques and processes, undermine traditional distinctions between art, design and craft. Her layered, cumulative method allows audiences to think about sculpture in new ways.
The exhibition includes existing work as well as the new floor, and extends through all the spaces of the Fruitmarket the airy modernism of the Exhibition Galleries and the rough materiality of the Warehouse. It is curated by Briony Fer who collaborated with Fruitmarket on previous solo exhibitions of work by Eva Hesse and Gabriel Orozco, and who will write the catalogue that accompanies the exhibition, tracking Antuness engagement with the Fruitmarket, Edinburgh and Scotland, in the context of other largely overlooked modernist legacies.
Director of the Fruitmarket, Fiona Bradley said:
We are excited for Leonor Antunes to take over the Fruitmarket with her beautiful work which hangs, props, knots, curls and extends through all our varied spaces. Were pleased to welcome Briony Fer back to the Fruitmarket to curate the exhibition and bring her insights to bear on this thoughtful, inspiring sculpture.
Leonor Antunes was born in 1972 in Lisbon. She lives and works currently in Berlin. Antunes' practice provides a unique contemplation on modern art, architecture and design through a reinterpretation of sculpture in a given space. Recent solo exhibitions have been shown at Serralves Foundation, Portugal (2022); MUDAM, Luxembourg (2020); MASP, São Paulo Museum of Art, Brazil (2019); Museo Tamayo, Mexico City, Mexico (2018); Hangar Bicocca, Milan, Italy (2018); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2017); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California (2016); CAPC Bordeaux, France (2015); New Museum, New York (2015); Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland (2013); and the Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain, (2011). Antunes represented the Portuguese Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, Italy in 2019 and has participated in the 58th and 57th Venice Biennale (2019 and 2017); the 12th Sharjah Biennial, UAE (2015); and the 8th Berlin Biennale (2014).
Briony Fer is Professor of History of Art at University College, London. She has published extensively on 20th century and contemporary art and curated Eva Hesse: Studiowork and Gabriel Orozco: Thinking in Circles at the Fruitmarket.