Photo: Richard-Max Tremblay
View of the exhibition The Duration of an Te Liu at the Division
The modern sculpture is inseparable from the question of the base plate, the pedestal that allows the work to dominate the viewer. It enshrines the subjects represented — as the sacrifice to the war — and a certain type of sculpture — the monument. But then came Rodin, who, with The burghers of Calais, dared to place his hero at ground level. Then came Brancusi that did not hatch completely from the base, but that he denied it all the same its function agreed upon, making of it an element of his reflection, not keeping it as if it was part logically of the sculpture. Then it was Carl Andre who reduced him to a “pavement” on which we can walk, abolishing the limit between the real space and the sacred space of the item with Regard to Richard Serra, he did just disappear.
It was believed, therefore, be freed from this stand pretentious. However, it has made a comeback in contemporary art. Return to order after years of experimentation ? Critical Dialogue with the classical tradition ? Two of the artists these days are expected to reveal their strategies.
An Te Liu, a canadian artist born in Taiwan, was known for his sculptures with abstract forms, referring to the work of Constantin Brancusi, Barbara Hepworth, or Jean Arp. Presented among others at the Gardiner museum in Toronto in 2013, its parts proved to be casts of packaging styrofoam of various commercial products over-packaged. To Division, in a room adjacent to the exhibition, you will also be able to see a piece made in this spirit. Titled Hard Edge Kawaii Subtraction No. 2 (2018), it resembles a modern work, but it is in fact the reproduction in bronze of the packaging of a humidifier, Hello Kitty.
Placed on pedestals, these containers become a way of questioning the limits between art and design ? Between, on the one hand, there is still a tendency to design it as the high culture and, on the other hand, the culture in a broader sense, one that produces many artifacts ? It must be said that these packages, which are not biodegradable, we will survive for a long time and that the archaeologists of the future may well ask, the cultural value of these, made of a material also innovative and eternal.
Unless the work of Liu is a form of critical comedy of contemporary design, these packages have become more interesting formally than the objects that they protect ? Or is it rather a wry look put on the modern sculpture become a style accepted, a look is now taken over by the decorating magazines ? Unless this type of contemporary art is just that, a possibility, for collectors today who cannot afford a Brancusi, a Hepworth or a Arp, still get this type of art, noted just a hint of irony, postmodern ?
In his new production, Liu goes a step further in its reappropriation. The forms exhibited not only play on the resemblance between a world that is “negative” and the modern sculpture. Liu dialogue with real-world objects, including pieces of his Honda. Talismatic, a piece evoking as a Brancusi, is a reproduction in bronze of a headlight of his car. As the title suggests, Autosuggestion is a reproduction of the mirror and a part of the body of this car. The current design does he have the lifeblood sucked out of modern art to distract from its function of contestation ? The work of Liu set thoughtfully in the scene all these questions current.
Photo: Richard-Max Tremblay
Two works by an Te Liu: “Into the Void (vita ante acta)”, 2017, and “Time Passes Slowly”, 2018
Several of these works still have bases, which already indicates how the work is worthy of the museum. A trend well established in contemporary art ! But Liu also knows how to play with other moments in the history of the sculpture. The piece Shadow — casting skin of the cow from the front of the car —, form skins, soft, hanging from the ceiling, reminiscent of the post-minimalists as Eva Hesse. Nothing resists appropriation ?
Born in Brazil but living in Brooklyn, Juliana Cerqueira Leite, too, produces a re-reading of the history of sculpture, a sculpture even more classic. The forms of his works white reminds us of the slaves of michelangelo. But one has the impression that these parts have been abandoned to the elements. You’d see them crumble, melt, erode on their base, their base and their steel structure. A kind of collapse of the ancient art of memory.
The result will also think of Rodin, who gave a place to the accident and the ruin in his work. Cerqueira Leite is fascinated by the fact that ancient artifacts have reappeared in the Amazon thanks to erosion due to climate change… His job carries with him the disturbing signs of this becoming the ruin of our world.
The duration of an Te Liu
And Juliana Cerqueira Leite. At Division gallery, until 30 march.