It’s been six years since I saw Industrial Designer Ron Arad’s phenomenal No Discipline exhibit at NYC’s Museum of Modern Art and was immediately smitten by the artist’s unique vision of transforming the functional and mundane into extraordinary works of art. Early last week, Geoffrey and I attended a talk by Arad at the Neuehouse Private Workspace Collective, during which he talked about his upcoming exhibit at Paul Kasmin Gallery and compared creating In Reverse, his new series of compressed Fiat cars, to the process of pressing flowers between the pages of a book. It was an excellent primer to set expectations high for the exhibit, which opened on February 12th.
In Reverse was first installed at the Design Museum Holon, Israel — the iconic building which Arad designed himself. The exhibition examines the ongoing dialogue between handmade and digital processes in his practice. Rather than manipulate materials to generate functionality, Arad reverses their utilitarian purpose and transforms them into one-of-a-kind objects.
Comprised of six of Arad’s Pressed Flower sculptures made up of compressed Fiat 500s in varying colors mounted on the gallery’s walls, In Reverse also illustrates Arad’s long-standing fascination with crushed metals, which he continues to collect in the form of soda cans or toys destroyed by oncoming traffic. For Arad, these crushed car sculptures are “the nearest thing you could do in three-dimensions to action painting.”
Even the Fiat itself retains iconographic importance to Arad; the Fiat Topolino 500c Giardiniera was his family’s first car, and as a child, his father nearly died in an accident in the vehicle.
The exhibition will also feature Blame the Tools (2013), a to-scale, digitally-grided, 3D model of a Fiat in steel and bronze.
In Reverse continues to highlight Arad’s exploration of material, form and function over the last thirty years with an earlier work, Restless (2007), a gravity-defying bronze bookcase. This functional piece simultaneously overlaps convex and concave surfaces to create a seemingly impossible balance that appears effortless.
There’s also video display where you can watch a frame-by-frame example of how one of the Fiat’s looks as it is gradually transformed through the process of compression. See more shots below:
And eventually it looks like this:
Ron Arad’s In Reverse will be on Exhibit Through March 14th, 2015 at Paul Kasmin Gallery, Located at 515 W. 27th Street in the Chelsea Gallery District.