Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos revisits Roche Bobois's furnishings
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Ready-Made, Vivid Colors and Tricot Embroidery
10/10/2019 - Portuguese traditional craftsmanship meets French “Art de Vivre”. The artist Joana Vasconcelos has revisited some of Roche Bobois's most iconic pieces: Mah Jong sectional sofa, Ava chair, the armchairs Nuage and Lady B as well as the side tables Sismic and Cute Cut are proposed in vivid colors, inspired by nature, and hand-woven according to traditional Portuguese craftsmanship.
For Joana Vasconcelos the creative process means, first and foremost, the deliberate decontextualizing of ordinary objects from everyday realities. By simply relocating them, a reference to the ready-made and the grammars of Nouveau Réalisme and Pop Art, the artist offers a different angle and a sight that, at the same time, encompasses social criticism and several features that speak collective identity. Main themes are, among others, women's rights, class distinctions and national identity.
'Everyday life is my main source of inspiration. My works are influenced by common elements made from everyday materials. As a woman and Portuguese, the know-how and materials specific to my culture are essential: the 'azulejos' that cover both the interiors and exteriors of our buildings, or the crocheted doilies that you can find in every Portuguese household, it's used to cover sofas, tables, or on televisions. For me this collection of revisited Roche Bobois classics represents the perfect fusion of Art, Design and Life.' Joana Vasconcelos
For Mah Jong sofa Joana Vasconcelos draws on her three-dimensional works which combine characteristics of both a painting and a sculptural object. 'Each module serves as a canvas where people can sit on. I used the equally sized modules of the Mah Jong and I added these handmade cushions in crochet, each one in a different color matching the color of the fabric. Together they shape a three-dimensional landscape of color and volume in which each element of the sofa is a separate space and experienced differently. This is because the cushions added to the squares determine the way you sit. Basically, I played with these very different physical experiences'.
For the Ava chairs the artist re-utilized old table centers - 'objet retrouvé' made of crochet that she brought home from occasional visits to jumble sales. 'For this series I made simply imagined a garden, nature, with a multitude of different colors and shapes. The red Ava, for instance, is covered in colored crochet and meant the outdoors. Another AVA I'd associate with a 'Cute Cut' table in order to create a living room, but also an outdoor version. For the other set I only used white crochet, the very material commonly used for bed covers and table cloths you can find in virtually every household.'
Nuage evokes a cloud weightlessly floating in the sky. It features a mixture of embroidery and crochet to give the impression of dissipation. The applied petals are a reference to the tiny particles and water drops that form clouds. 'Clouds are basically a mass of vapor, something intangible. The embroidery represents this fact, these elements we can't really see, but from which we all know that they make the cloud we perceive.'
Sismic is a piece that actually resembles an explosion, and you can really sit on it although it seems to be still settling.
Lady B is decorated with embroidery that evokes butterflies. To sit on this armchair is a unique experience, there are many different surfaces and volumes that come into touch with the back. It's not about comfort. It's rather about trying-out the different ways you can lean against the armchair. Lady B does not have inherently a sole correct way of sitting.
The six revisited pieces were exhibited on May 16 in the artist's studio in Lisbon as part of the ARCO contemporary art fair. This exhibition will be itinerant: from September 30 to October 4 the six works will be on display at the Roche Bobois showroom in Geneva in partnership with the Gowen Contemporary Gallery. Then, the works will travel to Paris in the Grande Armée Avenue showroom from October 14th to 20th. Later on they will cross the Atlantic to be exhibited at the Perez museum in Miami as part of the international contemporary art fair, ART BASEL from December 5 to 8. All pieces will later be auctioned. Proceeds will be donated to the Joana Vasconcelos Foundation. This charity aims to promote and develop art through educational projects.