Richard Wilson (of Saatchi’s Oil Room fame) meets Furniture Design in a Surrealist Setting
“The House is a constructed location where the setting evokes circumstances that are beyond or against the common definition and perception of things and phenomena in our world. The intention is to construct links between the functional objects in our daily life and the recollection of our emotional experiences, so that reference codes can be established to interpret or re-define the created objects.” (Artist’s Text)
There is a certain distance when you view the work, something terribly unsettling about the furniture and ‘props’ in this elaborate setup of a ‘house’. One enters the Jendela space into the ‘courtyard’ and greeted by a cluster of hanging green strings, like green clouds raining moss. Next, four pillars made of perfectly straight dangling white cotton string, and into the ‘dining room’. It might be easier to imagine the inhabitants as uber-humans with acquire taste and sits on chairs with a layer of water (or oil, warns the gallery sitter) as cushion, with the view of the Esplanade from the windows. The embellished furniture are sculptures with its function separated from form, ceasing to be sofas. In the minimalist fashion, the mode of production almost is synonymous with the art. On careful observation, they are not leather but possibly wood with plaster finishing. The unsettling effect could be due to the stripping of function of what we commonly accept as given – a chair is meant to be sat on. It is now perhaps a metaphor (to which we look at) for meditation or quiet solace like the the activity of looking at a Japanese Zen garden in minor parts, never fully seeing its entirety. Perhaps the mind sees something else other than these sculpted cloud-like objects, a repeated motif in this installation.
The minimalist design of the sets are polished and well constructed, like props in a Matthew Barney film. The individual works seem to hold their own, unfazed by the effect of walking through the curved space, one of the most successful exhibitions that used this jendela space creatively and appropriately. Compared to the artist’s earlier works, the wall hanging photographs find the artist ‘wearing’ his sculptures like a ski mask with freshness and surreal humour. In terms of aesthetics, it reminded me of Sookoon Ang’s equally well crafted, but miniature work. This is comparable, only life-sized – it relates to another domain of the psyche, between imagination and shopping for furniture.
The ‘house’ here is no doubt a vessel; a home a metaphor for other things – security, protection. In its introspection, it opens up new interpretations of the idealised domestic space – no cooking, no cleaning, pure art like in the product catalogues. This almost is the anti-thesis to Rirkrit Tiravanija’s installations, where the gallery space is reclaimed and domesticated. Here, we are reminded that the works contain oil or water, both essential to survival and cooking. Perhaps the key to (understanding) the house, is the importance of art in our living (room), how it fuels ones imagination, as oil and water are to our survival – for cooking and sustenance.
6 of 10 stars
Apr 20 till Jun 24, 2007
Jendela Space, Esplanade
More of the artists’ works and statements can be found at: