Jorge Pardo

Galerie Borgmann • Nathusius

Though the use of everyday objects has become something of a fetish in contemporary art, Jorge Pardo’s most recent installation goes beyond mere fashion. As early on as the stairway leading up to the gallery, the visitor was greeted by Pardo’s “benches,” stools upholstered in orange fabric—works somewhere between Minimalist sculpture and ’70s furniture. They draw their intermediary position from the fact that they can be used both as ordinary utilitarian objects-in fact, for the duration of this exhibition, the gallery’s regular chairs were replaced by Pardo’s stools—and as art objects. Their fine-art-object aura derived not only from the fact that they were placed in a gallery, but also from the asking price that declared each of the stools to be a costly work of art, and which made the use of them as stools seem patently absurd. The gap between furniture as art object and furniture as furniture was given an ironic twist by Pardo who deliberately upholstered the stools with weatherproof material, so that, as he explicitly stated, they could be used as garden furniture, that is, as “outdoor sculpture.” Pardo is interested in the history of objects and in their possible future: what today is a work of art tomorrow may be a functional object. Pardo’s furniturelike objets d’art, or “art furniture,” continually wind up in the wrong place.

Obviously, then, Pardo is not attempting to give new weight to craft or industrial design, as, for example, John Ruskin and William Morris were. Rather, his subtle play with both genres is an intelligent crossover of design and free, unapplied art; it posits a model for seeing things differently. This is also reflected in the “lamp objects” that Pardo hung in front of one of the far walls of the gallery. In color and form they too recall the ’60s and ’70s, which are currently enjoying a revival in various cultural arenas. The yellow-beige, red-brown, and splendidly blue hues of the lamps—with their amorphous forms and soft rounded edges—evoke the flower-power movement. That Pardo is also concerned with more formal sculptural questions is evident from his attention to form and volume and the way in which his “sculptures” occupy space. Through a simple folding technique, Pardo formed three thin, six-to-seven-meter-long bands into extremely flat rectangular “floor sculptures,” whose forefathers might well have been Carl Andre and Donald Judd. Their colors—yellow, gray, and blue—corresponded to those of the lamps, setting up a colorful dialogue over the entire space. Pardo’s works are by no means readymades in the Duchampian sense, but rather sculptures formed out of the everyday language of our world.

Yilmaz Dziewior

Translated from the German by David Jacobson.