STUDIO DABBENI

Exhibitions

PRESS

With the Luca Frei (* 1976) one-man exhibition, the gallery is expanding its activities to research into the most recent art generation, which will be included in the gallery’s programme in the future.

Luca Frei is originally from Canton Ticino but has lived in Malmö, Sweden, for many years now. He works with various media – from drawing and painting to architectural structure, text and sculpture – each time creating installations, situations and subjects inspired by their location.

Frei has created four new works for the exhibition arranged in the gallery’s Spazio 2. The first room contains a large iron sculpture that looks like an abstract tree; hanging from the branches are hexagonal shapes in coloured Plexiglas that are refracted on the walls around it. It is surrounded by small iron benches with wooden seats covered with fabrics in the same colours as the Plexiglas shapes. On the wall, a series of collages take their references from book titles, proposing new covers and, at the same time, presenting the decontextualised titles as an active part of the installation (the books mentioned include The Coming Community by G. Agamben, Revolt, She Said by J. Kristeva and Deschooling Society by I. Illich). In the second room, a poster glued to the wall combines a photograph of the Beaubourg forecourt in Paris, used as a car park before the Centre Georges Pompidou was built, with a quote by Kodwo Eshun, "Everything was to be done. All the adventures are still there". On the opposite wall, a mural drawing portrays a life-size figure holding up hexagonal shapes identical to those that hang from the tree.

Based on research developed by Luca Frei over the last 2-3 years, the four works contain some of the most distinctive features of his artistic language:  the elementary iconography inspired by children’s play (the tree, the benches), the figure drawn on the wall and the geometrical shapes (science formulae, absolute forms, Utopian symbols) , the investigation into the "so-called Utopia of the Beaubourg", and the use of texts and quotations as a "visual bibliography". Along the lines of previous interventions, the set of works presented seeks to offer a platform for discussion and reflection on notions such as Utopia, education, language, models of thought, institutionalised structures and on themes such as the mediation of knowledge and information. Comparison with things from our everyday lives, familiar but taken out of context, invites us to experiment with new relationships and invent different mental maps. By stimulating spectators to construct visual and intellectual relationships between the various elements proposed, Frei hopes to trigger flexible thought and breach the dimension of the possible.

A new issue of the magazine "temporale" (58/59, Edizioni Studio Dabbeni) is coming out for the Luca Frei exhibition, featuring a new interview with the artist by Marianna Garin and an article on the exhibition by Charles Esche. 

 

TEXT BY LUCA FREI

"The space is on the second floor, I've had the feeling it could be an apartment, or maybe more a place where people would gather, or meet. Still, a place that is not entirely public as well as not entirely private. Its familiar features are embodied in the architecture of the space, with the wooden floor and the door frames and the radiators. And the large windows from which one can see the cars passing by underneath.

The space also gives me a sense of displacement, a place which is and isn't. But then displacement also made me think of  the notion of "impossibility", therefore no longer a place that is and isn't, rather a place that could be.

In the first room there is a sculpture in metal which make use of the abstracted form of a tree. The tree is approximatively 2,70 meters high and coated with black opaque paint. From its branches hang hexagonal shapes produced in plexiglas, these are yellow, red , blue, orange, green and purple and are transparent so that the light reflect their colours onto the surrounding walls. Underneath, 5-6 benches are disposed around the tree, they are also produced in metal, with the top made in wood and covered in coloured fabrics, the colours of the fabrics is the same as the colour selection for the hexagons.

On the walls, around the tree, there is a  series of collages. Each collage is related to the title of a book. My idea is to propose new covers for these books, at the same time my intention is to decontextualise the titles from the book and reproposing them as an active part of the installation. The relationship to the books also influences the installation with the tree and the benches, the room could be seen as a reading room where books are present only as references.

In the second room is a double sided poster: on one side there is a photograph of the square Beaubourg before the construction of the Centre Beaubourg; on the other side a quotation by Kodwo Eshun: "Everything was to be done. All the adventures are still there". The poster will be hand printed as a screenprint and applied on the wall on both sides in the same fashion posters are applied on the streets. The piece is realised taking two elements from different sources and combining them together allowing them to influence each other. The photograph of the square is suddenly destabilised by the quotation, which in turn is transformed by the new meaning assumed by the photograph. The reference of the image belongs to my long term research on the Beaubourg with the starting point in the book La soi-disant utopie du centre beaubourg written by sociologist Albert Meister.

In the same room also a wall painting picturing a semi-abstracted figure raising a formula of hexagon in the air, the hexagons can be seen as a scientific formula as well as materialisation of a creat. For me this image refers to  activity and to learning as a dynamic and transformative movement.

The works are independent but also quite interrelated in the sense that they all can be read independently, though together they produce new dynamics of interpretation. The tree and the benches could be seen as a communal structure to be used, which with the reference of the titles of the books become closer to a particular meeting room, not really a library, in libraries one has to be silent. Here with the absence of the books one is somehow pushed to reflect, speak, and therefore to be active.

The situation in the first room is reflected in the second room with the figure painted on the wall, and by claiming that "Everything was to be done. All the adventures are still there" the poster somehow displaces the whole situation in terms of both time and space.

In the second room I would also like to place one of the benches from the first room in front of the window, this not only to link between the two rooms, but also to draw attention to the window and to look outside the space."

* G. Agamben, The Coming Community; J. Kristeva, Revolt, She Said; I. Illich, Deschooling Society; J. de la Casinière, Absolument nécessaire; E. Van Der Plas, M. Halasa, M. Willemsem (ed.), Creating Spaces of Freedom; E.A. Grosz, Architecture from the Outside.

Luca Frei