During our stay in Madrid over the weekend, we spent a day wandering the enormous halls of the ARCO Madrid contemporary art fair. Here’s our digest of our favourite artists and their ouvres that blur the lines between art, design and interiors.
Yann Sérandour has a little obsession with cacti but we were drawn to these sculptural pieces that use found vintage furniture and books to create tree-like structures that perhaps play on the french word for page – feuille – which also means leaf, referring to the base materials used to create the books themselves and the wooden structures that support them.
These pieces are part of The Ups and Downs of Cactus Mania series which is a continuation of the artist’s prickly obsession.
Pantone is one of the cornerstones of the design industry and acts as a method of standardising colours, giving them names and demonstrating their relationships with one another. You know what else has been categorised in the same way? Mathieu Mercier demonstrates this taxonomic relationship between Pantone colours and plant, or more specifically, flower species by presenting a colour chart next to the physical object itself.
Check out this interview (in French) with the artist to learn more about how his use of flat-bed scanners to create his images further emphasises this act of measurement and the artworks’ relationship with design and architecture.
Thomas Broomé’s typographical artworks sit somewhere between art, design and illustration for us, particularly owing to his subject matters which are all still life-like interior spaces. Similar to Mathieu Mercier (above), we can see a relationship between Broomé’s work and a taxonomy of language and objects albeit presented in a very literal sense.
Although this piece is in black and white, it’s well worth having a look at the artist’s use of colour in some of his other artworks. We’d love to have a print of one of them but they seem to be available only as originals.
Mosaic as censorship and camouflage are the themes of these great pieces by Tobias Rehberger. Mosaic techniques are used to pixelate large-scale scenes from the Kama Sutra, while tiled vases and floral arrangements are hidden either directly against the image or on plinths in front of the image using the same technique.
We really enjoyed these installations and could see this very original technique applied to interior design, particularly bathrooms or even outdoor spaces.
Sculpture that’s as much about what exists as what’s left behind. This seems to be the central theme to Ricardo Rendon’swork with fabrics whereby the forms he creates are defined by the pieces of fabric that are cut away.
These two pieces show his taste for perforated textiles and amorphous, almost organic shapes, and in the case of the mustard piece, the way the perforations and the form come together to appear natural, like coral, or at least something plant-like that could be found in nature.
In other pieces, Rendon leaves the perforated detritus and off-cuts strewn underneath the sculptures to highlight the negative space, or void, that are essential to the works.
The influence of architecture on Manuel Caeiro’s work is undeniable but we particularly like the interplay between his paintings and his sculptures which seem like reiterations of one another while originating from a singular investigative blueprint that’s always unfinished.
Memory, place, displacement and domesticity are the artist’s concerns but among all this discussion of the human experience within space there’s a lot of room for beauty, particularly unexpected beauty, the likes of which can be found in an abandoned construction site or when the quiet workmanship of neatly organised electrical wires are exposed by a sledgehammer wielding DIY home renovator.
Ola Kolehmainen’s photography consists of startlingly atmospheric interiors and architectural details that are fractured and repeated to create imagined spaces. Through these abstractions of monumental spaces, the artist seems to expose the psychogeography of each space, revealing something felt rather than seen.
Look, these installations by Monica Restrepo has left us a little baffled, particularly the cartoonish hairdo-like helmets that find themselves sitting on vintage chairs, so it’s up to you to make of it what you will. For what it’s worth, the artist has stated that she uses seemingly banal stories as arguments to fabricate absent images and missing narrations.
Are these helmets (which I believe were named after female authors) place-holders for absent discussions? Who knows. Read more here.
Disassemble, reassemble, replicate! Nuno Sousa Vieira uses commercial objects and discarded factory materials to create dialogues dealing with commercialism, obsolescence, form and function by making utilitarian objects unusable sculptures, or “unusable” waste into functional pieces.
Perhaps not the most original of concepts but poignent nonetheless when considering sustainability and the disposable culture that permeates the design and domestic worlds. Check out more of his work here.
Danilo Duenas creates minimalist structures that are inherently ephemeral in nature by using found objects to construct his large-scale installations that exist only for the duration of an exhibition before being returned to their origin. Repetition, scale and perceived fragility dominate his work which often utilises recognisable construction materials and everyday objects such as doors and drawers to create a new context for these objects, even if for a limited time.
Perhaps fear is an element of these installations inasmuch as the large sculptural pieces look unstable despite their size, and through the use of materials that can be found around the house, notions of safety, permanence and familiarity within the domestic sphere are all challenged.
Jacques Lizène is a saboteur and self-proclaimed “mediocre artist” who acts to disrupt art and reject the mundanity and corruption of humanity by creating art that mocks its audience and the art world. His furniture piece above is cleaved in two to render it useless while representing a senseless destruction similar to a drunk falling on a coffee table. Likewise with the portrait of Picasso, his image is defaced and mocked.
Lizène is a strange man, he even received a vasectomy to make a statement that he wanted to cut his generational line to prevent further experience of this world. Disruption, farce and nonsense define his work and yet there’s much humour in these pieces and even beauty in their destruction. You can read more about his antics here or on his crazy facebook page.
The photographic artwork on the left is by John Murphy.
Who doesn’t love a good mobile? Light as air with a perfect balance of materials that speak to patience, gravity and interconnectivity. Alexander Calder is undisputedly the master of the artform and his pieces mask their complexity with an effortless simplicity as they punctuate the air with beautiful graphic motifs.
You may recognise Calder’s work from his landmark mobile sculpture outside the Pompidou. All this talk of mobiles brings to mind that exceptional performance of balance that hinged on a single feather.
This artwork by Nicolas Grospierre was one of our favourite artworks at the fair; a box installed within a wall that uses mirrors to create the illusion of a library that extends forever in each direction. It was disorienting and beautiful at the same time, touching on themes of the infinite expansion of knowledge and the ways we can be disoriented by an oversupply of information (news, internet, endless blog rolls).
Here’s another thought, after reading this article from The Guardian concerning the limited number of books one could possibly read within a lifetime, this artwork felt to me like the expanse of knowledge and stories that are unattainable due to the fragility of physicality. The idea of unknown knowledge left behind is horrifying thought but also an interesting question to pose yourself while selecting which book to read next considering it takes one of the places left in the finite number of books you can read before death.
On that rather grim note, that’s all from us in Madrid. We were so impressed with ARCO we’ve already begun the countdown to FIAC in Paris in October. Happy reading everyone!