Los Angeles

View of “Jessi Reaves and Sophie Stone,” 2016. On floor: Sophie Stone, Untitled (in-reverse #1), 2014/2016. Chairs: Jessi Reaves, His and Hers Ferraris, 2014.

View of “Jessi Reaves and Sophie Stone,” 2016. On floor: Sophie Stone, Untitled (in-reverse #1), 2014/2016. Chairs: Jessi Reaves, His and Hers Ferraris, 2014.

Jessi Reaves and Sophie Stone

View of “Jessi Reaves and Sophie Stone,” 2016. On floor: Sophie Stone, Untitled (in-reverse #1), 2014/2016. Chairs: Jessi Reaves, His and Hers Ferraris, 2014.

For their first exhibition in Los Angeles, New York–based artists Jessi Reaves and Sophie Stone furnished Del Vaz Projects with works that slyly confused the boundary between the so-called “fine” and “applied” arts. Slouching against walls and scattered across the floor were large, irregularly woven textiles and idiosyncratic furniture pieces that served an aesthetic purpose as much as a utilitarian one. The works fit seamlessly into the exhibition space, given that the gallery is also a lived-in apartment. (The venue housed the artists while they created, in the building’s garage, most of the displayed works during an informal three-week residency.) Recalling neither the artisanal luxury items of the Arts and Crafts movement nor the rationalized, reductive forms of modernist designs, Reaves’s and Stone’s functional objects were ludic combinations of raw materials and sourced objects that often bore traces of previous uses.

In the main gallery—a living room—Reaves exhibited a series of quasi-anthropomorphic chairs and shelving units. His and Hers Ferraris, 2014, comprised a pair of steel chair frames padded with wide strips of polyurethane foam, sexily sheathed in sheer dark-rose slipcovers with revealing cutouts edged in bright red silk. A far cry from the disciplined elegance of the curvilinear chair designs of Giò Ponti or Carlo Mollino (which seem emaciated in comparison), these paired chairs nonetheless radiated their own ungainly charm. Puckered ribbons of foam were wrapped around a large chair frame covered with a hardened mixture of glue and sawdust in Life Is Getting Longer/Baguette Chair, 2016. One sank down comfortably into the squishy, cellulite-like folds of this armchair, cushioned with foam pieces unevenly colored from varying amounts of light exposure, dust, and dirt left by previous visitors. A trio of sculptural shelving units, one freestanding and two attached to walls, all made from biomorphic, Noguchiesque shapes cut from plywood (a very un-Noguchiesque material), completed the furniture set.

Underneath and alongside Reaves’s furniture pieces, hanging on one wall of the gallery’s main room and sprawling on the floors of its kitchen, dining area, hallway, and outdoor patio, lay colorful rug-size works by Stone. These textiles were made from new and used cotton, sisal, plastic, and acrylic rugs and mats, cut up and rewoven, thus producing a mixture of colors, patterns, textures and styles. In some, house paint was subtly applied to emphasize the flatness of the picture plane, as in Untitled (carpet with vine), or to further the pictorial push and pull carried out literally in Untitled (carpet with pink border) and Untitled (carpet with silk edge), all 2016. Stone’s pieces bring to mind the mediums of painting and collage, yet some of her works can be turned around, such as Untitled (in-reverse #1) and Untitled (in-reverse #2), both 2014/2016. Not only are Stone’s works easily portable (and sometimes flippable), they are also semantically flexible. All of her textiles can be displayed on the floor, where they are used as rugs, as well as on the wall, where they read as paintings or wall decorations. The slippery nature of these works is evident in Untitled (carpet with pieces), 2016, which is composed of two strips of sisal tightly (and suggestively) bound together by cords; hung so that its bottom rests on the floor, the work appears to be either sliding off the wall or creeping its way up.

What Roberta Smith once remarked of Scott Burton’s furniture objects can also be said of Reaves’s and Stone’s works: They emit a “physical, quasi-erotic magnetism that is both fascinating and a little repellent.” But unlike Burton’s concrete, metal, and stone forms, which are seemingly timeless, Reaves’s and Stone’s works evoke a cyclical temporality: New materials become old and old materials are repurposed to become new. Eschewing the coldly polished surfaces of Burton’s furniture, the artists have given their works absorptive skins that receive and retain incidental marks of touch and use—ongoing records of the objects’ biographies. In these pieces, “stains” have been “removed” through a conceptual reframing, allowing seeming imperfections to resonate instead with significance.

Kavior Moon