Shortly before people crowded into Carpenters Workshop Gallery's Paris space to view Sebastian Brajkovic's latest series, the Dutch designer stood facing Vanishing Point IV and said, 'At some point, you have to sit on it.' Which he proceeded to do, as if to prove that the piece neither flipped over or sucked him into a vortex beneath the floor. 'Basically, I make sculptures but they have to be practical,' he explained.
To look at the work is to see an eighteenth century court chair elongated and distorted, sloping downward so that it simultaneously becomes a sofa and an optical illusion. If this is furniture, it is also a folly that invites a new way of thinking about perspective.
Brajkovic, who is now based in Paris, says he arrives at his overlap of classical and conceptual by thinking beyond his comfort zone. 'I ask if it's possible physically to make a piece like this. That's what you often find in sculpture; you see the impossibility. I try to show this tension in these works.'
As with his previous series, Lathe, Brakjovic roots his work in exceptional craftsmanship, from the patinated bronze chair frames to the silk embroidery atop cashmere wool. With Fibonacci, he elevated the elements further still, working with haute couture embroiderer Maison Lesage to achieve the raised, concentric patterning. Against the neutral toile, the metallic tracks of copper and silver catch the light and animate an already whimsical design. 'That was a long-term wish,' he said of collaborating with the couture embroiderer. 'I thought it would be exquisite if the [motif] started to live outside the fabric.'
Fibonacci, of course, gets its name from the Italian mathematician whose number sequence is closely related to the golden spiral, which is represented in nature by seashells and cyclones alike. Brajkovic's chair, meanwhile, presents the seat and back converging to replace two legs with a curling double tail. Instead of clay, he used 3D printing to create the cast. 'I had to be strong with this piece; there was a possibility that I wouldn't go on with it,' he confessed, relieved that it came out stable.
Where Fibonacci appears on a podium like a singular statue, two additional works share a section of the gallery with more reserve. Conversation Piece reimagines the confidante triangular arrangement so that all three seats are offset side-by-side and propped up by 8.5 legs (one doesn't reach the ground). Sleipnir, ostensibly a bench (its name refers to an eight-legged horse from Norse mythology), looks like it might gallop off when no one is looking.
Altogether, the five pieces stand as some sort of surrealist proposition with any number of possible readings; does the lozenge-shaped embroidery represent animal scales or an homage to M.C. Escher? Do the double spindles on both Vanishing Point pieces convey a glitch in time or a warped effect à la Francis Bacon (Brajkovic cited the artist as a strong influence)? 'I totally respect the spectators' ideas,' he insisted, before adding. 'These pieces are purely my expression of beauty; that's the sole message.'