Martine Bedin, the architect and designer who helped to cofound the Memphis group in Milan in 1980, is presenting a series of works created between 1984 and 2022, at the crossroads between painting and sculpture, as well as two sets of drawings.
“Taking with her the baggage of her experiences, her notions, her sense of space, her perception of rhythms (…)”, to quote Sottsass concerning her work, Martine Bedin has set about producing in this series an experience at the polar opposite of design, with the question of function and industrial production here being shifted.
The 1984 drawings, depicting forms in space, were initially conceived as utopian architectures, in the midst of the Memphis period, with their recognisably experimental dimension. But, on re-examining them alongside her current work, they are floating objects, detached from the landscape, closer to mental forms than technical drawings for a building. The 2018 drawings, intentionally presented in a dialogue with the older ones, are studies for vases which are no longer just studies, and which led to the oil-on-wood series ‘Vase in Vase’ (2022-2023).
While the form plays at once with the idea of a vase and a statue, the subject is set in a dialogue with both still lifes and portraits. They are objects with a theatrical presence, standing like sentinels in the gallery space, suggesting an insolent, critical fusion between painting and sculpture. Through a subtle play of contrasts of shadow and light, and a superposition of the lines and patterns that create the “background”, the fruit depicted on each ‘Palazzo’ seems to be on the verge of dematerialising.
“The slightest still life is a metaphysical landscape”, wrote Francis Ponge. These seemingly new correspondences between design and matter plunge us into unsuspected reflections about the relationship between the works and other objects in the world, and about the frontiers of the world of the senses.