Tag Archive | The Memphis Group

Christopher Chiappa’s Compositions at Kate Werble Gallery

Front Room Installation View
All Photos By Gail

When last we visited Kate Werble Gallery for one of sculptor Christopher Chiappa’s immersive exhibits, the place was covered wall-to-wall, floor-to-celing with Fried Eggs, and that was a good time. For his fourth exhibition at the gallery, Chiappa has installed in its front and back rooms two collections of what, on first glance, appear to be brightly colored, painted wooden tables. On closer examination, however, the at once familiar table shapes of Chiappa’s sculptures transmute and metamorphose into increasingly whimsical and delightful forms as you progress through the galleries. It’s a hoot.

Front Room Partial Install

With this show, Chiappa attempts a reset from past projects by returning to the most fundamental elements of abstraction: geometric shapes, solid colors, and line. His Compositions are made slowly, by hand; and his use of bright color serves to emphasize the assembly. The junctures between individual planes of wood are heightened by the sharp transitions in opposing colors and forms.

Blue Table

This one is my favorite. I think because of the Pink leg.

Red and Yellow Stacking

Mondrian Table

These works operate firmly within the gap of the simile. In color, shape, and temperament, they metabolize a succession of art historical reference points: Suprematism, Constructivism, Bauhaus, and Memphis Group. Like the Suprematists, for example, Chiappa uses the language of non-objective abstraction. However, instead of seeking to transcend the material world, he purposefully goes the wrong way around; he directs these forms back to the familiar.

Rainbow Table

Turquoise Table Set

As the tables become more abstract, you can play a fun game coming up with ideas of what the shapes remind you of.

Fed Ex Table

In this one, the use of Orange and Purple reminds me of the Fed Ex logo!

Bicycle Table

This one reminds me of deconstructed version of a child’s Tricycle.

Twisty Table

The Red Shape at the top of this one looks like a Fish trying to swim away. If you add in that Black Shape to the lower left, it could also be a Chicken.

Tangled Sculpture 2

In this, I see a group of friends of different races playing a game of One Potato Two Potato. See? Lots of fun. And I was by myself, so imagine how much more interesting it could be if you see the show with a friend.

Now lets check out the back room, where things get weirder.

Rear Gallery Installation View 2

Chiappa’s Compositions evolve without foreseen conclusion, evidence that repetition leads not to sameness but to difference. The early works remain closest to the basic form, and they gradually deviate further from the original. Though the parameters and materials remain the same, the final sculptures feel far removed from the first. The result is an autonomous object whose symbolic reference point has broken down altogether.

Target Table

I see a big Target.

Target Legs

Look at all those Legs!

Rocking Sculpture

Sculpture Collection

Blue Spire Sculpture

Blue Table Sculpture

Stacking E Tables

Compositions is a really fun exhibit, espcially for fans of minimalists like Ellsworth Kelly and modern furniture design. And you still hove lots of time to check it out!

Christopher Chiappa’s Compositions Will be on Exhibit Through June 2nd, 2018 at Kate Werble Gallery, Located at 83 Vandam Street, Soho, NYC.

Rear Gallery Installation View
Rear Gallery Installation View

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Eye On Design: Menorah #7 By Peter Shire

Menorah #7 By Peter Shire
All Photos By Gail

In the 1980s, Judaica artists began to reexamine the form of the Hanukkah lamp, which according to rabbinical prescription should have eight lights in a straight row and on the same level, with a ninth set off from them.  Peter Shire (b. 1947) typically takes familiar objects and reimagines their shapes, colors and materials so that we barely recognize them.

Menorah #7 By Peter Shire

In his Menorah #7  (1986), a mixture of pastel and hot colors, industrial metals and a cantilevered, swirling arrangement of parts  challenge the modernist aesthetic of simplicity that had dominated design for a century. This post-modernism was a key design principe of the Memphis Design Group to which Shire belonged.

Menorah #7 By Peter Shire

Photographed in The Jewish Museum in Manhattan.

Eye On Design: Kyoto Table By Shiro Kuramata

Kyoto Table
Photos By Gail

Born in Tokyo in 1934, Shiro Kuramata studied at the city’s polytechnic high school and Kuwsawa Design School. He revolutionized design in postwar Japan by considering the relationship between form and function, adhering to minimalist ideas but embracing surrealism as well. During the 1970s and 1980s, Kuramata began to use new technologies and industrial materials. He was inspired by Ettore Sottsass and joined the Memphis Group at its founding in 1981.

Kyoto Table Detail
Kyoto Table, Detail

The Kyoto Table (1983) is an example Kuramata’s innovative use of concrete and glass to create minimalist form with surface interest. Kuramata’s furniture and interiors have been influential both is his native country and abroad.

Photographed in the Met Breuer in NYC.

Eye On Design: Cabinet De Curiosité By Shiro Kuramata

Cabinet De Curiosite 2
All Photos By Gail

Shiro Kuramata (1934 – 1991) a member of The Memphis Group and among the most innovative designers of the late twentieth century, was fascinated by the visual possibilities of acrylic. The artist stated that his ideal objective was to see objects floating in air. Named for the Wunderkammern owned by Renaissance princes that displayed natural and man-made curiosities, Cabinet De Curiosité (1988) offers the magical impression of suspending its contents in midair. Kuramata explored the phenomenological effects of acrylic — light and lightness, invisibility and reflectivity, weight and weightlessness – and the material has become the poetic signature of his work. Kuramata used the term Neiro, or “sound-color,” to describe the synesthetic effect that acrylic has it both its physical presence and the spectral color-shadows it casts as light passes through it. Its prismatic luminosity changes with light and viewpoint, exploiting the optical effects of the material. Shown here alongside Flower Vase #3 (1989).

Photographed in the Met Breuer in NYC.