Installation view, Martin Boyce, A Library of Leaves, Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Löwenbräu Areal, Zurich, 2010
With the solo exhibition A Library of Leaves, Galerie Eva Presenhuber is pleased to show new works by Scottish artist Martin Boyce.
When Martin Boyce first came across a black-and-white photograph of concrete sculptures made by Joel and Jan Martel (Paris, 1925) modeled after trees, it was impossible to predict the strong influence this would have on his future work.
The graphically analyzed structure of the trees became a foundational module for far-reaching design interventions. For example, this module forms the foundation for an alphabet that Boyce developed. The letters of this alphabet surface in many of his works, marking them and defining them. They might simply be applied to the wall, so that the eye has to trace out, like leaves that constantly change their direction in the wind. But they might also be elements inscribed in sculptural works, hidden in their structure.
In this way, Martin Boyce challenges the beholder to look ever more precisely. If little can be seen on first glance, on second glance words and contexts emerge. By way of the sequence from the primal tree, to the petrified tree, to apparently strict, angular letters, suddenly unexpected poetic quotations are encountered: “Out of this sun, into this shadow.”
Martin Boyce has been fascinated for some time by the designers of the modern style and their furniture. Dismantled and reassembled, again and again, Martin Boyce works on select design icons, such as the ©, to obtain new facets of their steadfast claims.
In A Library of Leaves, these two fields of activity encounter one another symbiotically: towards this end, Martin Boyce has created two large-format table works that derive from Jean Prouvé’s designs for a library table for the Maison de l’étudiant in Paris. The original design is literally expanded in Martin Boyce’s works by adding a new, legible dimension. All structural elements, both the table legs as well as the lampstands on the side, have been replaced by a central triangular shape of the basis of the module described above. The table slabs have entirely disappeared in their actual form. While on the one trestle there is now an incomplete and reassembled wood panel, the panel on the second has given way to an iron door, which repeatedly surfaces in Boyce’s work. For the two boards, the “concrete” tree was the inspiration, the patterns and letters that reanimate them come from its stone leaves.
In a similar way, the new wall works of Martin Boyce reflect this reference: the panels, as if cast in concrete, clearly show the structure of the wood sheathing. These surfaces too come together to form a subtle play on words, whether or not these found elements are from literature or formulated by Martin Boyce himself.