Luca Frei (* 1976 in Lugano, Switzerland) is known for designing spaces that encourage free learning, reflection and emancipatory action. His work moves freely between sculpture, furniture design, performance, exhibition design and graphic design. This interdisciplinary approach allows him to explore the boundaries between fine and applied arts in a different way each time, demonstrating a singular and empirical approach to thinking and making art. In his work, discursive considerations and commonplaces are combined through a great poetic sensitivity shaped into forms, images and thoughts. Frei's work has an intrinsic ability to generate associations for the viewer, inviting them to reflections and thoughts that go beyond the exhibition space.
For his fifth exhibition at Studio Dabbeni, Luca Frei presents new works, including a sculptural installation, fabric prints, drawings and watercolours, which explore issues of place and belonging, proximity and distance, as well as modes of connection. A key feature linking these works is drawing, a practice that, along with Frei's interest in the functional and symbolic potential of forms and objects, has always been central to his multifaceted work.
The large installation Creeper consists of irregular plywood surfaces supported by doweled legs that unfold organically like large leaves at different heights from a central round surface, also made of plywood. The height of the surfaces is designed in such a way that they can be used as a table top either sitting on the floor or standing on a chair, or as shelves. For the artist, the structure lends itself to various environments as a place to gather, for individual and communal uses, as well as a display system for plants, books, and objects.
Adjacent to the installation, two fabric prints show stylised human figures, each looking through a dark window. In one print the figure is standing and facing downwards, and in the other the figure is reclining and facing upwards, almost like a mirror. The architectural element of the window functions here as a point of transition or connection between the inside and the outside, operating as a metaphor for hope, change and the step into the unknown.
In the works on paper presented in the exhibition, landscape as both physical and mental space can be identified as the artist’s main subject. The precise and controlled lines guide the viewer through bare environments, while traces of erasures and other marks remain perceptible to the eye, placing the drawings in an in-between state. In the watercolours, trace from the original drawing in pencil still visible under the layers of colour, but more than following the line the shapes and colours seem more to suggest each other, leaving the trace behind to find new and unexpected paths.
A commissioned text written by Malmö-based poet Iman Mohammed* accompanies the exhibition.
Luca Frei, born 1976 in Lugano, lives and works in Malmö, Sweden. His solo exhibitions include institutions such as Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Malmö Konsthall, Kunsthaus Glarus, Bonner Kunstverein, and Lunds Konsthall. He has participated in various group exhibitions including The National Museum of Modern Art Kyoto; Bildmuseet Umeå; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Moderna Museet, Stockholm, and biennials in Istanbul, Prague, and Ljubljana, and Cairo. Recent exhibition designs include Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Tensta Konsthall, Malmö Konstmuseum and Haus der Kulturen der Welt. In 2021 he produced the graphic design for The Otolith Group's monograph Xenogenesis, published by Archive Books and IMMA The Irish Museum of Modern Art. From 2015 to 2021 he taught as Professor at the the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.
*Iman Mohammed was born in Baghdad, grew up in Stockholm, and lives in Malmö. She is a graduate of the Swedish writing programs at Biskops Arnö and HDK-Valand. She debuted in 2017 with the chapbook Fermata. BEHIND THE TREE BACKS (Ugly Duckling, 2022) is her first full-length collection of poems, published by Norstedts.