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JH

Teetering Hybrid Mongrel Furniture

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Martino Gamper: 100 Chairs in 100 Days at City Gallery Wellington, 2017. Photo: Shaun Waugh Martino Gamper: 100 Chairs in 100 Days at City Gallery Wellington, 2017. Photo: Shaun Waugh Martino Gamper, Painter's Mate, 2007. Photo: Martino Gamper and Åbäke.  Martino Gamper, Un-stable, 2007, in Martino Gamper: 100 Chairs in 100 Days at City Gallery Wellington, 2017. Photo: Mark Tantrum. Martino Gamper, Kiwino, 2017. Photo: Mark Tantrum Martino Gamper, Kiwino, 2017. Martino Gamper: 100 Chairs in 100 Days at City Gallery Wellington, 2017. Photo: Mark Tantrum. Martino Gamper, Omback, 2006. Photo: Martino Gamper and Åbäke. Martino Gamper: 100 Chairs in 100 Days at City Gallery Wellington, 2017. Photo: Shaun Waugh Martino Gamper, Barbapapa, 2006. Photo: Martino Gamper and Åbäke. Martino Gamper, Sonet Butterfly, 2006. Photo: Martino Gamper and Åbäke. Martino Gamper, Back Issue, 2006. Photo: Martino Gamper and Åbäke. Martino Gamper, Two-some, 2006. Photo: Martino Gamper and Åbäke.

In his prolonged examination of 'chairness', Gamper has in these inventive sculptures brought together components as diverse as walking sticks, hammock parts, coathangers, bicycle parts, light stands, cabinets, cabrioles, water-wings, guitars, stools, cushions and wire storage bins, revelling in inversion, incongruity, lopsidedness, sexual suggestiveness and bizarre juxtaposition.

Wellington

 

Martino Gamper
100 Chairs in 100 Days

 

8 April -13 August 2017

This motley collection of quickly made chairs is an exuberant celebrant of‘motleyness, one that could be mistaken for a testament to the power of bricolage, except that Italian furniture maker Martino Gamper‘s gloriously amusing improvisations obviously utilise careful planning and hoarding of dismantled furniture parts—disparate though those might be.

The results are borne not from an urgent necessity that exploits discovered properties found within discarded rubbish; they celebrate instead the pleasures of shrewd wit and (I think) a certain amount of preplanning. He wouldn’t have started totally from scratch every day in his London studio; the mental linking up of suitable elements to make ‘stable’ platforms parallel to the floor would have been cumulative and gradual—not in diurnal isolation.

These mutant rests for the tired figure affect your mood physically, in ways other than your contingent vertical deportment or posture—for you can’t try them out. They’re visceral and exhilarating, for to wander through Gamper‘s lined up rows of chairs on the first floor of City Gallery is to make your body susceptible to uncontrollable chortles, squeaks and gasps. As good art should.

In his prolonged examination of chairness, Gamper has in these inventive sculptures brought together components as diverse as walking sticks, hammock parts, coathangers, bicycle parts, light stands, cabinets, cabrioles, water-wings, guitars, stools, cushions and wire storage bins, revelling in inversion, incongruity, lopsidedness, sexual suggestiveness and bizarre juxtaposition. The substances include carved or laminated wood, steel tubing, foam, plastic, fabric, and wire. Shiny and new, and old and worn materials are mixed.

Therefore you don’t have to know a lot about the history of modernist chair design or various classy ‘chic’ brands in order to visually enjoy them. The sculpture shapes are often highly suggestive of crouching people, four-legged mammals, insects and birds—or items of clothing. With so many individualistic eccentric chairs together on one floor, like in a lecture hall or op shop, the experience is overwhelming but not exhausting. Repeated visits never sate your appetite for close looking. There are always more deliciously peculiar combinations and sources you haven’t already noticed.

City Gallery Wellington is the ninth destination for this wonderful internationally touring show. The excellent 100 page catalogue has nine short, concise and entertaining essays, though the colour of the reproduced images is disappointingly more subdued than in real life. A superb uplifting exhibition.

John Hurrell

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