Mai-Thu Perret, In the hearth of whose house does smoke not come from fire?, 2020, glazed ceramic, 9 3/8 x 17 x 17 inches (24 x 43 x 43 cm)
The group exhibition These lacustrine homes, curated by Mai-Thu Perret, features works by Valentin Carron, Isabelle Cornaro, Karin Gulbran, Matthew Lutz-Kinoy, and Perret herself.
The title of the exhibition takes inspiration from "These Lacustrine Cities," a poem by John Ashbery inspired by the geography of Switzerland and the social implications of living in proximity to large bodies of water. While the artists in this show hail from different locations, their objects favor an aqueous, amorphous quality that has been historically maligned as overly diffuse by the canon, but which represents a quasi-mystical drive for boundlessness in alternative cultural contexts. Exploring the tension between domestic materiality on one hand and a biomorphic, dream-like strangeness on the other becomes a way for them to consider the intrinsic life force of the art object from a vantage point defined by a kind of covert conceptualism. In a new animation, for instance, Isabelle Cornaro develops metaphors for unbridled consumption that are as humorous as they are horrific. Matthew Lutz-Kinoy’s large-scale depiction of leisure as romantic resistance, meanwhile, pictures nude Lake Geneva bathers embracing and conjures the fin-de-siècle symbolism of Swiss painter Ferdinand Hodler. Valentin Carron’s cast aluminum bathrobes connote the presence of the body precisely by its absence and perform a "dry" reading of the body’s abiding "wetness." Perret’s own ceramic sculptures test the limits of that medium’s mutability in physical and formal terms alike, and the vessels of Karin Gulbran—which take on traditional as well as surreal, animal-like shapes—exude an ensouled warmth that speaks to the transcendental tactility of the natural world. Taken together, the works on view in These lacustrine homes exist at the intersection of the symbolism and the visceral materiality inherent to artmaking.