Artists: Lucy McKenzie and Laurent Dupont
Venue: Meyer Kainer, Vienna
Exhibition Title: Cukrovarnická 39, Prag
Date: April 27 – June 2, 2016
Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.
Images are courtesy of Meyer Kainer, Vienna. Photos by Tina Herzl.
Laurent Dupont and Lucy McKenzie are artists based in Brussels, showing together for
the first time in Vienna at Galerie Meyer Kainer with the exhibition Cukrovarnická 39,
Prag. In this they present a series of collaborative works in which they link their different
approaches to uniting painting, sculpture and the applied arts.
The title refers to the address of SVIT, the gallery in Prague in which the works were
made and exhibited in early 2015. Located at that time in a suburban villa, the artists
designed for it a series of ornamental features. Applying their painted ‘skins’ to mundane
objects and improvised mdf structures they transformed the domestic space into an
Reinstalled in Vienna, the group of decorative elements are stripped of their original
context. But they are reactivated by the monumentality of the Meyer Kainer gallery
rooms; their configuration is here close in atmosphere to an applied arts museum or
showroom. The display creates an experimental zone which both elevates and detaches,
and new meaning is generated by their dislocation from the original narrative. This, it
should be remembered, is in a city where historic design is both venerated and expected
to perform the demanding task of ventriloquizing a lost milieu.
Laurent Dupont initiated his series of Objects in 2012, and since then the expanding
project has been shown in many cities, including Los Angeles, Brussels, Vienna and
Vilnius. Inexpensive ornaments and household items are bought from places like flea
markets and second-hand shops, then altered and exhibited in the cities in which they
are found. The multiple layers of acrylic paint with which they are transformed act as a
cultural envelope, turning the objects into artworks. The singular materiality of each
object disappears in favour of visual standardization, often looking misleadingly like casts
or 3D digital prints. By being covered, the original objects lose their utility and become all
surface presence, and it is circulation and context that now determine their value. Their
reflective quality meant that their placement in the villa in Prague enabled them to loop
back to the domestic world for which many of them were originally manufactured. Here in
Vienna they respond to the specific consumer and design culture of the city.
Lucy McKenzie studied at a private school for decorative painting in Brussels in 2007-
2008, and the commercial techniques she learned there have been central to her work
ever since. With its traditional mode of production, and its alignment of skill with value,
trompe l’oeil is an innately conservative idiom; but it is precisely this conservativism that
facilitates a tense relationship between form and content. Decorative painting has its own
history, one that remains independent of prevailing art discourse. Marble can symbolise
authority, evoking interiors constructed in an age when those in power had limitless
means at their disposal. It also represents the prized status of natural resources. This, for
McKenzie, has parallels with the contemporary cult of the authentic, mimicking the way
political and ecological alternatives, subcultures and the historic avant-garde are often
embraced as mere content to be mined and polished, instrumentalised through
appropriation into works of contemporary art.