When the material is unabashedly camp: the practice of Max Colby
by Vidur SethiAug 20, 2022
by Sunena V MajuPublished on : Oct 18, 2022
Carpenters Workshop Gallery established its long-awaited presence in the Californian city, as it added itself to the art map of Los Angeles, along Santa Monica Boulevard, in a retrofitted warehouse. Following the gallery's emphasis on emotions, and artistic and historic relevance, Los Angeles-based design studio Standard Architecture transformed the industrial roots of the warehouse into an artistic hub of expressionism. Since its inception in 2006, the Carpenters Workshop Gallery, perceived by co-founders Julien Lombrail and Loïc Le Gaillard, has aimed to create a platform where design becomes art. The expansion of the gallery adds another layer to its ongoing commitment to the elevation of artists and their works at the intersection of art and design. "The aim is to engage the West Coast community of collectors with the gallery’s roster of artists through museum-quality exhibitions and educational programming," states the gallery.
In a 535 sqm. space, Jeffrey Allsbrook and Silvia Kuhle of Standard Architecture designed a typical Los Angeles bowstring truss structure in the warehouse. Adding to the structure's industrial charm, the American architects have designed the gallery's interiors with polished concrete floors, exposed white painted bowstring trusses, brick walls, and daylight pouring in through skylights. The five-metre span of the warehouse's existing trusses supporting the roof enables the creation of various layered spaces. Organised from rear to the front of the building, these spaces start at the alley and end at Santa Monica Boulevard. "Entering off the alley is creating an element of discovery, derived from the concept of a speakeasy bar. Visitors pass by the existing loading dock, walk up a new concrete and metal staircase, and enter the building through the art storage," mention the architects.
Opening its doors to the art world, the gallery's inaugural exhibition was hosted by Spanish artist Nacho Carbonell. Along with marking the beginning of the gallery in Southern California, the exhibition was also Carbonell’s first solo exhibition in the USA. The design exhibition unveiled more than a dozen new, unique works by the artist, each art handcrafted to a reflection of his thoughts. Influenced by the sun-baked earth of Valencia in his native land of Spain, the series draws inspiration from memory and nature. Resonating with the landscape and context of the California region and incorporating water as a physical element into his work, the series also displays Carbonell’s first fountain.
With the statement identity of creating sculptural art that appears to be an ethereal dreamscape, every piece of work Carbonell shapes has a story to share. While extending conversations about the world we live in and our place here, his works are a remembrance of the soul and human existence crafted from nature. “His magic lies in his ability to transform organic materials and debris into extraordinary sculptures. I see in him a beautiful mix between Franz West, Alberto Burri and Antonio Tapies,” says Loïc Le Gaillard, co-founder of Carpenters Workshop Gallery. Along with presenting the visitors with an evolution of the explorer and artist in him, the inaugural exhibition brings forward a new face of Carbonell famous for his earlier Cocoon works and participation in DYSFUNCTIONAL at the Venice Biennale 2019. Defining the coming together of the gallery and Carbonell, Julien Lombrail, co-Founder of Carpenters Workshop Gallery, shares, “Nacho is perfect for LA and the wild, wild west – strong, rogue and beautiful at the same time, it’s art from the gut. Each unique work is a portrait of his brain.”
While retrofitting the warehouse's industrial architecture, the architecture firm created a blank canvas for furniture design to become functional art. Translating the gallery’s idea into design, the architects state, “For the new Carpenters Workshop Gallery, Standard’s approach to the space brought clarity to the existing building and created an empty vessel to showcase the art pieces.” Bearing witness to this amalgamation of collectable design and art was the inaugural exhibition where products such as tables, cabinets and light sculptures were transformed into surreal pieces of art. Conveying Carbonell’s experimentation with industrial and often recycled materials, the artworks adorn the sense of tactility and demand to be closely explored. While sculpting pieces at his Eindhoven-based studio that thrive, survive and imbibe stories of the past, his works hold a reflection, like a self-portrait of himself.
With an array of pieces that blurred the line between design and art, the inaugural exhibition presented Carbonell’s exploration of his roots, memory and nature. While making its debut in Los Angeles through Carbonell’s art, Carpenter Workshop Gallery prepares to transform the art culture of the context. By reinventing an abandoned warehouse into a landmark for art in West Hollywood, the gallery reflects on its past when its first space took shape from a former carpenter’s workshop in 2006. The new permanent gallery space marks the expansion of the Carpenters Workshop Gallery to Los Angeles and will be led by director Louise Torron.
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