Delving deep into the early practice and sculptural explorations of artist François Grossen, the New York outpost of Blum & Poe is currently presenting a series of works by the Swiss artist. Including both early sculptural builds and maquettes that trace her evolving interests in the potential for fiber and fabric not only as sculptural material, but equally as carriers of various symbolic and spatial interventions. The, show, on view through January 6th, serves as an expansive introduction to the artist’s work, working through both her hanging pieces and arrangements of rope and fabric on a flat plane.
For Grossen, the act of arrangement and sculpting with these materials initially served as a proxy for the history of tapestry-making, incorporating the materials’ inherent weightiness and density as a mode of both participation and subversion in its traditional forms and arrangements. The thick plaits forming her rope sculptures make the piece sit in serpentine, twisting forms, anchored in place by their heft and scale, and even on occasion holding other materials in place as well. This interest in collaborative constructions of form run throughout much of this work, creating dense assemblages of material that translate the tapestry’s woven materiality into a more complex spatial politics.
Grossen’s pieces here suspend the gesture of abstract painting, the explosive energies and varied gestural movements, as material in nature, realized through a mixture of immanent properties and her own aesthetic interests. Thin sheets of fabric twist in and out of the openings in the rope around them, while elsewhere, the act of braiding itself becomes the twisting form of the piece, creating bundles and lines of rope that recall the clustered heaps of paint seen in so many of the era’s painterly avant-garde. In other works, she uses these same acts of braiding to pull divergent elements into deliberate contrast, forms and concepts colliding through their tightly bound arrangements. Salt Fish, for instance, combines her various threads of fabric with plaster, creating a flat plane countered by the tightly wound braids of manila rope that create a parallel column. This combination pushes a deliberate conversation in space and line, turning the rope itself into a canvas on which the artist is able to play complex games of point and counterpoint.
The show also features many of Grossen’s early hanging works, which draw her early interest in combinations of weight and scale, shape and form into new points of exchange. Lent a new dimensionality and sculptural potential through their massive drapes of fabric, the sculptural capacity of these works, like Maquette for Long Island House or Braided Single Element pull the artist’s interests skyward, allowing the conversation between gravity and form to draw new lines of inquiry. Abandoning an exacting approach towards the construction of these works in favor of one that lets the natural world in, Grossen pushes her interest in raw fabric and natural form into striking new directions.
Tracing the artist’s gradual evolution and development of her signature voice, the show is on view through next week.
— D. Creahan
Françoise Grossen at Blum and Poe [Exhibition Site]