The figure of a man encrusted in broken glass, a clock partially hidden in the folds of a blowing sheet, pensive huge-scale paintings of the surface of the moon. STORM is the latest exhibit of New York-based Daniel Arsham, contemporary artist and co-creator of Snarkitecture, a collaborative practice which uses art and architecture to create imaginative and unexpected spaces.
STORM takes place at the Galerie Perrotin, a contemporary art gallery founded by Emmanuel Perrotin, the French art dealer whose dedication to the arts knows no boundaries (in 1995, at request, he dressed up as a giant penis for an exhibit opening). Representing a slew of well-known names in the contemporary art scene like Takashi Murakami, Sophie Calle, Maurizio Cattelan and Bernard Frize, among others, the two-storey Marais gallery is the perfect place to exhibit Arsham’s stunning collection of pieces that shatter the calmness of its white walls.
The timing of his exhibit is poignant, almost fitting, given what people in the US East Coast have recently experienced with Hurricane Sandy. Arsham drew inspiration from the devastation of Hurricane Andrew, which hit Miami in 1992. He was nearly killed, and 20 years later, we see in his art the impact of the destruction of the storm he had so narrowly escaped.
In “The Explorer”, a man with a hand to his brow stands against a wall. He is glittering, entirely covered in shards of glass, inspired by the mass of broken glass surrounding Arsham’s home after the storm hit 20 years ago. This material upcycling of glass is reminiscent of his ping pong ball project, wherein he wallpapered his 90 square-foot Brooklyn apartment with 25,000 ping pong balls. The same technique is used for “Reforming the Frame”, a wall filled with picture frames reconstructed with pieces of broken glass.
Moving on to the next room, the artist plays with our perception of physical space. The surface of the walls seem to ripple over a half-hidden clock in “Sideways Clock”. He uses the wall to mimic a sheet in “Hiding Figure”, covering the shape of a man whose shoes are peeking out from underneath. He uses movement in “Moving Wall”, giving the impression of the walls closing in on a mirror.
Arsham also presents a series of canvases of the moon. The storm had cut off electricity for a month, and moonlight was a constant companion and a lasting memory of the hurricane’s after effects. Geometric patterns cut and slice through his moon paintings, envelopping the viewer in an otherworldly vibe.
Pensive and fragile, STORM revolves around the nature of life, the elements of destruction, and how, like broken pieces of glass glued back together, we do what we can to move on.
Daniel Arsham’s STORM runs from 3 November to 22 December 2012 at the Galerie Perrotin.