Life and Death – two sides of the same tree – on one branch a figure swings happily; on another a figure swings dead in a noose. On another tree, figures hang exhausted and dying, perhaps from trying to climb up to the light, while in a prison cage, one friend sits doing everyday ablutions, another hangs dead, and a third crawls on the floor. Elsewhere, the mouth of an unborn embryo is supporting a lamp – will this provide the embro with life, or result in its death? These are just some of the bronzes by Atelier Van Lieshout at the Carpenters Workshop Gallery in London, which blur the boundaries between art and design. Are these table lamps or artworks or both?
Atelier Van Lieshout is a collaborative which purposely blurs the boundary between art, architecture and design. Founded 20 years ago in Rotterdam by Joep van Lieshout, it creates large scale works such as “Funky Bones” in the grounds of the Indianapolis Museum of Art – 22 white and black bone-shaped benches – and more intimate domestic-scale works such as those on show at the Carpenters Workshop Gallery. Their work has recurring theme of self-sufficiency, power, life and death and they are not frightened of controversy.
Carpenters Workshop Gallery was founded ten years ago by Loic Le Gaillard and Julien Lombrail with galleries in London and Paris and focuses on artists that bridge between design and art. “When we started out a decade ago, there was little connection between art and design. Since then, things have changed so much. We are pleased to see that now there are designers who no longer do industrial design; they are creating a new kind of discipline that is closer to art” (Julien Lombrail).
In addition to the lamps, two bronze coffee tables – “Technocrat” and “Gastronomy” – create imaginary figurative scenes, challenging you to decide whether to actually use them for wine or coffee.
Interesting and challenging works that makes you stop and think about the contradictions of life – and death.