Erwin Wurm returns to Thaddaeus Ropac’s Paris Marais location this month for an exhibition of new works, continuing his bizarre and occasionally disturbing interpretations of the materials of everyday life, broken down and perverted by momentary inversions and surreal inflections of force. The show, titled Lost, enters further into the vocabulary of objects the Austrian artist has developed over the course of the past 20 years, narrowing his focus to the objects and landscapes of the domestic interior.
The pieces in Lost are already classics, in a certain sense: vintage furniture, antique appliances and home decor that have already distinctly embedded themselves within certain contexts, often ones implying wealth or good taste. These pieces, initially executed in clay and then cast into bronze or polyester after several layers of acrylic. The process-heavy creations play on Wurm’s fascination with the familiar and the domestic turned inwards, bent or distended in occasionally disturbing forms.
Yet here, Wurm’s pieces, given their already strong contextual anchors, take on more layered affective capacities. Challenges to the prestige of these designs and their place as objects of desire are subverted by violent impressions of tramping boots or reckless violence. Wurm’s titling of each piece also plays on and directs the viewer’s interpretation in other directions. While the tramping feet of Snow (Chaise Lounge) implies force, the title itself introduces a sudden flux of the natural into his scene. Contrasting with past work, the artist’s actions here are a new twist on his already well-polished surrealist vocabulary, bringing in multiple interpretive angles with a minimalist elegance that makes his pieces here feel distinctly fresh. In a nearby work, Butter (Fridge), the artist executes a full-size refrigerator in mid-decay, melting as if it were composed from the dairy product he describes.
The pieces are struck down from their pedestals, robbed of their allure as objects to covet, and instead the markers of abstracted narratives of violence or anger that hold each piece at a distance, then twist backwards in a new direction, languidly reaching into extended associations and references that make for impressively layered viewings. These clever notes and quick comic twists on the familiar landscapes of modernity are a welcome addition to Wurm’s already impressive body of work, and underscore his continued evolution in the construction and occasional destruction of the sign itself.
The show closes on March 5th.
— D. Creahan
Erwin Wurm: Lost [Thaddaeus Ropac]