Daniel Dewar & Gregory Gicquel
13.02.16 – 10.04.16
At KIOSK, British-French artist duo Daniel Dewar and Grégory Gicquel bring together several new series of sculptures under the title Digitalis.
Their sculptural practice features a wide array of traditional techniques, including embroidery, weaving, ceramics, wood and stone carving. They employ this autodidactic knowledge to create unique, handcrafted objects (often but not exclusively in series), a method that implies long and labour-intensive processes. In the gradual realization of a sculptural image the artists do not slavishly subject to the rules of traditions. Instead, they make up their own rules along the way. Their consideration of the origin and nature of their materials, and the manual, idiosyncratic manipulation of anachronistic techniques and obsolete tools, provide the artists with a unique sculptural potential.
The exhibition’s title is derived from the botanical name for foxgloves; ‘digitalis’ meaning ‘of the finger’, a reference to the flower’s shape. The floral motif of the purple Digitalis flower is repeated in the details of a number of new works, but an investigation into the ‘fingerprint’ has always been present in their sculptural work in the form of a continuous interplay between the unique, traditional touch, and the serial or digital gesture.
In the works on display, these apparently contrary characteristics often blend. The series of unique seats was hand-made by the artists from cypress wood, using a chisel and a mechanical wood carving machine. The cushions for the seats are adorned with digital embroidery. The abstract flower motifs resonate with the other embroidered element of the moth pattern in the background. The high relief with the boots was previously executed in stoneware, but is here realized in two new wall murals in oak. The ceramics series of ‘footed jugs’ is also part of a larger on-going series (Stoneware vessels). The largest vessel is placed in the centre of the room: a handcrafted oak sculpture, titled Trough n°1 (Digitalis).
In the elaboration of series of works and in the choice of certain visual motifs and materials, a strategy of repetition is suggested, while the artists’ manual, labour-intensive method in fact refutes the idea of the perfect reproduction. Repetition makes the works interact, and it is in their correspondence that the game of proportions or nuances in the wood, size or colour within a single series becomes most apparent. They are not functional copies, but personal interpretations of objects. These figurative representations are autonomous, yet simultaneously part of a larger whole – a body, a narrative, a series, or an exhibition.
Digitalis brings together a series of sculptural representations that form a landscape charged with meaning. The configuration of the seats, feet, boots, flowers, moths and feeding trough, for instance, could be seen as a reflection of a contemplative perambulation through a rural environment, a simulacrum that evokes idyllic life in the countryside. Dewar & Gicquel’s use of local materials and subjects also attaches a reference to their personal work environment, rural Brittany, to Digitalis.
The artist duo are undertaking a thorough investigation into figuration within a post-minimalist landscape, and what guises and meanings this can take today without being reduced by an over- determining narrative. Techniques and media are not a work’s final goals, but generally function as starting points for examining the narrative potential, as references for the subject to freely revolve around.
The sculptures represent quasi-realistic and simple or succinct images. In their succession, they make up a visual language that floats somewhere in between the banal and the surreal. They are autonomous and dysfunctional works of art that appropriate the form of an ornament or tool. They agree and refute simultaneously. The wooden seats are too fragile to sit on, the ceramic feet pretend to be empty vases (or vice versa) and in the middle of the open space, accompanied by moths and flowers is a container, monumental but empty. In these containers, form and content, subject and material blend.