Escaping Gravity by Adrien De Melo
Valerie Goodman Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of new works by the French designer Adrien de Melo – his first show in the United States. Grouped under the title “Escaping Gravity,” this series of objects and furniture pieces will introduce to an American audience a European designer distinguished by his unexpected use of traditional materials. The gallery will celebrate the artist with a reception on October 9 from 6-8 PM , at 315 East 91st Street, 4th floor where the show will be on view until November 30, 2013.
The Paris-based designer describes his work as “translating the metaphysical into the physical.” Often, Adrien de Melo’s thoughts find their first material expression in a lump of clay or plastiline which he soon transforms into a complex, multifaceted shape. Modeling a pliable, amorphous mass with his fingertips was his original approach to understanding the creation of a three-dimensional object and this method still informs his thinking about volumes and vacuums. A porcelain vase constructed from fractured planes into a small cubist rock formation reflects his ongoing interest in abstracted nature.
Instead of honing his manual skills at a design school, de Melo graduated from the Sorbonne in Art History and preferred to learn directly from working with engineers and contractors. His gift for bridging the conceptual and the technical positioned him in 2006 to become the trusted interface between (among others) the artist Daniel Buren, the architect Frank Gehry and the city of Paris for the multi- million-dollar project of creating a series of micro-architectures along a resurrected early 20th century tramway. Another project, De Melo’s “Upside Down” library for Louis Vuitton’s “Espace Culturel” on the Champs Elysées, was praised for the floating esthetic of his book-cases, which hung suspended from the ceiling. Leaving a minimal footprint is an aim he pursues even when working with marble or onyx – having always been attracted to stones, de Melo wants their beauty, their dignity and noblesse, but not their weight. At the same time, he has recently been inspired by a beloved object of popular culture – the skateboard – and has turned its simple dynamic beauty into decorative ceramic plates, creating surprises based on the tension between material and function.
For his New York debut, Adrien de Melo envisioned himself as a builder high above the streets of the city, fleeing his usual highly structured environments in search of something more organic. “The builder’s dream” results in what de Melo describes as “forms trying to evade determination,” as in the case of his Black Forest Table (which he named after the mythic region where his grandmother lived). The eye moves along the irregular contour of the solid oak tabletop as if encircling a foreign island. The two lamps named “Colosses,”on the other hand, are decidedly more grounded – their large slate bases appear like feet belonging to glowing white onyx legs. For his SOW desk, de Melo placed a reconstituted birch plywood slab with a laminated walnut inlay on top of a support resembling a human rib cage, further exploring his original vision of the organic. And while the theme of flight is again addressed in his intricate birch “Butterfly” stools, it is with his two mirrors framed by runaway tiles that de Melo most vividly realizes his notion of “escaping gravity.”