Goldsmiths Curatorial Critique

Hans-Peter Feldmann at Simon Lee Gallery

Posted in Reviews by hannahgruy on February 9, 2009

flower_pots1Muddled with images from everyday life the solo show of Hans-Peter Feldmann at Simon Lee proves to be an assemblage of found and ready-made objects that address lapse of time and personal association with the objects themselves. Feldmann addresses the themes of documentation, repetition and presentation. The show serves as a preservation of memories and Feldmann’s association with these memories through specific objects.   

With just about 40 works, spanning over three decades of time, Feldmann’s first solo show with Simon Lee is like a treasure chest, full of familiar objects removed from their everyday lives. Many of the amateur photographs we have seen before, parts from the series Beds, where Feldmann has taken photographs of slept in hotel beds, all lonesome and dry, or Time Series from 1970, but the collectables that have been contained inside three large plexiglass museum-quality vitrines evoke a sense of nostalgia and obsessive ness. Entitled Wunderkammer, in these vitrines, among other things, a viewer will find Feldmann’s expired credit card, sewing kit, a Gameboy, a mini Chanel perfume bottle, and hotel room key. There must be at least 100 items inside them. While the Venus and David plaster statues which stand tall in the front window of the gallery are painted in a humorously brightly coloured paint evoking conflict between pop and history, these tiny collectables encased so delicately trigger personal memories and remind viewers the inevitability of forgetting.

In the center of the gallery space sits a Persian rug and on top a large silver candelabra with candles tilted to the right. To the right of the candelabra on the wall hangs a large print of a bookcase entitled Library. This spacious set up, in fact, gives the feeling of a library, a place to think, a place to reflect amidst the explosion of 37 other individual pieces in the gallery space. However, the rest of the exhibition is like walking into your grandmother’s attic, confronted with precious, meticulously cared for objects. The attention to detail in Feldmann’s work comments on the idea of unrecognized moments; Feldmann takes these lost moments and draws attention to them by showcasing and delicately arranging objects, giving us a different meaning to associate with each ‘special’ one. In this show these lost moments come in the forms of potted flowers, hats, telephones, plaster statues, retouched renaissance paintings, shoes and many more items, it is not the item itself that is the point, but the association the viewer makes with it. The gallery has turned itself into Feldmann’s attic, storing three decades worth of work.


Giuseppe Penone Solo Show Frith Street Gallery

Posted in Reviews by hannahgruy on October 30, 2008

The massive weight of Frith Street Gallery’s front door serves as the perfect introduction to Giuseppe Penone’s solo show. Consisting of five large-scale sculptural works the show meticulously examines the relation between humans and nature, materiality and spirituality. The vast weight of the sculptures is clearly evident by the material itself. In the entrance of the gallery lies an enormous carved wooden beam, entitled Scultura di linfa, 2006, with a deep crack running from one end to the other. This crack, filled with vegetable resin, resembles a deep cut in the flesh, the resin, the blood. The piece seems to be the beginning and end of the rhythmic play between all the pieces, not only because of its situation near the door, forcing the viewer to circle it twice, but also because of the idea of an open wound in the wood. Pelle di marmo, 2001, is situated on the back wall of the gallery across from the front entrance. Weighing nearly 300 kilos this marble piece is cut in such a delicate manner that it posseses an almost ephemeral sense of human skin. The massive weight of the sculpture is clear but the feeling of this weight is not.

On the left wall of the gallery hanging just at eye level is Pelle di marmo su spine d’acacia-Lucrezia, 2003. This diptych piece consists of two parts, the left is a rectangular silk canvas with wave-like patters of acacia thorns. Undulating across the canvas the viewers eyes are easily lead into the right side of the piece which is a slab of rippling marble. This movement seems almost rigid when compared to the rolling motion set by the acacia thorns.

The works in Penone’s show not only emulate nautre’s similarity with man but also man’s craving to be part of nature. Penone links organic objects with their humanistic counterparts. Resembling skin, blood and teeth Penone has taken the human aesthetic and applied it to nature. However powerful the human resemblances in the sculptures are, the grandeur of them and their simple rawness ultimatley reminds the viewer of their detachment from nature itself.

installation view

installation view