Anders Dickson & Clémence de la Tour du Pin: “A Sudden Wilt”
October 21 - December 5, 2020.
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When faced with environmental factors such as water scarcity, excessive heat, or malnutrition, plants will slowly collapse in on themselves. This loss of rigidity and sagging of form is what we call, “wilt.” By contracting its surface area, a plant is also able to conserve what little water it has left. While there is beauty in both bloom and decay, the wilt is less easy to prescribe an aesthetic value to. This is because it entertains an ambiguous liminal state of being neither nourished nor parched.
In de La Tour du Pin’s paintings and wall-based objects, interstices of paint and fabric become pockets of space on which they eye comes to rest. In the ambient pools left between skeletal structures in the works, one is reminded of embalmed bodies or windows. Many of the materials were collected by the artist in an old hôtel particulier she visited in her youth, prior to its dissolution and subsequent sale for refurbishment. The diverse textures and patterns of the materials obscure the reality of their source. In her paintings, the artist achieves a similar effect by rendering cropped images of stained glass doorways in New York City. Like a bud, or a chrysalis, the psychic density of these works radiates outward, as their earth tones unfurl into the wider planetary plane itself.
Whereas the works by de La Tour du Pin suggest compression and an inward preservation of bodies, the sculptures and wall works by Dickson bleed outward. Through a vivid color palette, the artist creates an emotional rapport between the practices of sculpture and painting. Dickson’s sculptures manifest contorted and ambiguous bodies which hybridize and reimagine industrial machinery. In his paintings, one finds echoes of the sculptural forms, as masses appear to have been unpacked and stretched flat like origami.
As the artists share a studio together, their works also share many attributes: among them, the theme of disfigurement. Both artists draw inspiration from theories of interstitiality and anti-structure, as proposed by the anthropologist Victor Turner. Under such conditions, the irrational and the weird are welcome guests. In “A Sudden Wilt” the artists navigate this space, in which hints of surveillance are whispered by windows, while policemen and civilians are mutually implicated in their dismal meetings. This is the place where all things wilt, where life forms bend at the weight of their parts, slump in, lose form.
While plants may have no choice but to regard the events happening outside their windows, the gradient from passivity to activity becomes increasingly abstract as the affinity between actors is imbricated. We see each other through transparencies. Invisible barriers are set to protect us, but in actuality they remind us of our solitude. As the norms for common social spaces and events are being reconfigured, our yearning for comfort finds a temporary home in the nostalgia of old-world textures of wood and fabrics, more immediately subject to decay than plexi-glass panes of unknown temporality.