Lisa Cooley is currently presenting British artist Matthew Darbyshire’s first U.S. solo exhibition, Suite, featuring eleven life size sculptural pieces, that utilize polycarbonate, a material that can be described as a type of thermoplastic polymer known for its practical commercial usage. Composed of narrowly piled half inch sheets of semi-transparent layers, these neatly arranged forms deliver juxtapositions of certain commercial mundane objects and a replica of Michelangelo’s David.
Through his work, Darbyshire casts the pieces of the everyday, plasma TVs or a toilet bowl, for instance, within a certain color scheme, and then places these hand-assembled sculptures aside figures implying the monumental, such as David, playing on the intersections of art and life, history and banality within the gallery itself. The feeling of domesticity comes as no surprise to the London-based artist. He recently completed a project in a group of New York City apartments rented via Airbnb, executing a survey on the shared visual language of NYC interiors. Foreign at first sight, objects such as a radiator, an egg chair or window curtains gradually gain familiarity once their highly technological, and often fantastical materials correlate with viewers’ perspectives.
Composed of repetitiously layered piles, these objects of commercial use, along with a figure of a dog and the aforementioned David, claim an alternative mode of representation, requiring an alternative approach from their observers. Visually perplexing, these sculptures, stripped from their utilitarian aspects, allure the viewers with their unusual material and warm colors. After this primary stage, pieces such as CAPTCHA No.29 – Toilet or CAPTCHA No. 27 – Lantern deliver their absurdly familiar forms and offer an experience between the artificial and the real.
Scattered around these sculptures of technological renovation, stainless steel cat figures introduce an animate and relatively traditional element with their conventional medium and kinetic presence. Caught climbing onto the ceiling or resting on the floor by the radiator, these hand carved cats complete the feeling of domesticity and break the strictly pastel colored patterns of other sculptures.
Darbyshire’s work invites a familiar, albeit reshaped take on the spaces of the day to day, imbuing gentle gradients and colorful new life into familiar surroundings that make his work as much a tie to the heavy formalism of Do Ho Suh or Rachel Whiteread, while incorporating his own playful aesthetic. Suite is on view at Lisa Cooley through March 29, 2015.
*All images are by Osman Can Yerebakan for Art Observed.
— O.C. Yerebakan
Lisa Cooley [Exhibition Page]