Critics’ Picks

Hubert Duprat, Polystyrène et galuchat (Polystyrene and Sharkskin) (detail), 2011–12, polystyrene, wood, tanned sharkskin, dimensions variable.


Hubert Duprat

Galerie Art: Concept
4, passage Sainte-Avoye entrance 8, rue Rambuteau
January 14–March 10

With his limited output and its equally rarefied exhibition history, Hubert Duprat has received critical acclaim over the years as a sequestered alchemist of sculpture. He is known above all for incorporating a wide range of unusual materials, which he often examines in depth, exploring everything from their physical properties and vulnerabilities to their status in the history of material culture. Unlike other artists who share a similar perspective (Simon Starling, to name just one), Duprat chooses closed, “classical” forms that concede little or nothing to the narrative dimension.

His current show presents untitled sculptures: a cylinder made of pyrite cubes; plastic dice with pieces of Ulexite; a Plexiglas cube composed of smaller cubes. A final work consists of polystyrene and tanned sharkskin (Polistyrène et galuchat, 2011–12). This piece, perhaps the most beautiful of the lot, is a good example of the sophisticated logic Duprat uses to choose his materials. Similar in terms of surface grain, sharkskin and polystyrene are also related in the function they serve––the former providing thermal insulation for the fish, the latter for humans. In every other way, however (origin, composition, workmanship, cost), they are utterly different. Their association summarizes an impressive evolutionary time span of the history of life on our planet, from the natural to the artificial, from biological to technological evolution.

The other three works on view here are different in terms of inspiration but similar in their basic principle, and they bear out Duprat’s inclination to create objects worthy of a contemporary Wunderkammer, wherein intellectual knowledge emerges from the sense of astonishment elicited by something rare, unusual, or unexpected.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.