notes from an urban hibernation

Paris : Simon Cutts & Erica Van Horn

Starting from Home


It is one of the delights of living where we do that you can just slip out for ten minutes to see something, pick up something, and return to the eyrie, without preparation. No long train journeys with coats and bags, no rest stop.

It was one such jaunt that took us to a gallery round the corner in Rue Sainte Anastase. I knew Peter Downsbrough was in town making an exhibition, and thought we should say hello. Especially in the light of a book of his photographs of Cork we thought to do.

Contrary to all reservation about the current state of galleries, or maybe because of it, his installation was pure delight. It’s a precarious balance to have just enough to hold the eye and mind. Peter is one of those artists whose work has intensified and become even better as he’s gotten older, more spare and precise, and with a clearer reading of any space he is given. I am always amazed at the simplicity of devices in the construction of his work, the home-madeness that leads to such an abstraction and austerity of the finished work. With Peter Downsbrough, the black painted wooden dowel rods hang from small painted nails, hooks and eyes on the wall and ceiling. The vinyl sign is spliced and positioned with such care and judgment of its space. Fred Sandback bought coloured rayon yarn at the haberdashers and stretched from wall to floor and ceiling fixed by small ferules of brass tube he drills into the surface. They both divide space in a sublime  and yet totally understandable way.

Both of them seem almost the last of a generation of Americans who come with a particularly incisive development from a starting place. I am thinking of Hugh Kenner’s A Homemade World  of the modernist writers, re-applied here. It is something  that continues through the simplicity of means of their work to the completeness of its abstraction . You can read it in their most understated, seemingly empty work. SC


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This entry was posted on February 1, 2014 by .
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