Acrotony is the tendency of most trees and plants to give nutritional priority to the lateral shoots nearest the apex of the main shoot — to put the emphasis on spiritual nourishment, you might say. It also provides Leonor Antunes with an opportunity to reflect on the colonisation of plants: not only directly — by other plants — but also by the host of varieties transported by humans. For this, her third exhibition at Air de Paris, the artist has opted for interaction between a selection of species and her new sculptures. The upshot is a discrepancy, an expansion similar to the blow-up process involved in the creation of those sculptures; an enlargement in a different, non-classical sense notably directed at the repetition of a module within a whole, or at the transition to another material — since this particular amplification has a blanket effect on the original dimensions and materials which renders the initial motif unrecognisable. Alternating wood, rope and metal tubing, the works’ contours are lifted from “functional” forms: buildings and furniture emblematic of a modern movement.
Here we recognise only an evocation of the lines of this design heritage, and this in turn focuses the eye more closely on its — now disembodied — functional state. Is it actually possible to create a totally new object, emancipated of all context and of any generic history of its own? This is one of the questions inherent in the discovery of the Antunes oeuvre, a large part of which is titled “Discrepancies with.”
This title is at once a summons to some of modernism’s players and a reminder of our connection with tradition and established practices. Thus not only the objects but also the plants making up and dominating our environment are above all bearers of a history, a culture: that of a possibility, or even of an avant-garde.
This third Air de Paris show, then, harks back to pioneers like Sergio Rodrigues, considered the father of Brazilian design; the Milan-based Italian Rationalists Franca Helg & Franco Albini, the latter being one of the first architects to work with a woman in his studio; and Charlotte Perriand.
Acrotony invites us into a space divided into two separate parts by a net screen. This static shot reproduces a component, co-signed by Perriand, of the “Bachelor House,” a temporary space emanating powerful political convictions that was created for the Exposition Universelle — the World’s Fair — in Brussels in 1935. Here it is called upon as a unit of measurement providing a grid of proportions as in the squaring-up procedure invented by Alberti during the Renaissance. And this same visual filter confronts us when we enter the exhibition.
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