Art and architecture unite in new works by Cyprien Gaillard at London’s Sprueth Magers

Spruth Magers Cyprien Gaillard
London's Sprueth Magers gallery is currently playing host to 'From Wings to Fins', an exhibition of new works by Cyprien Gaillard and Color Field paintings by Morris Louis
(Image credit: Cyprien Gaillard, Morris Louis)

The collision of art, architecture, longing and loss is never more pertinent than in the new exhibition of work by Cyprien Gaillard at the Sprueth Magers gallery in London. The French-born, Berlin-based Gaillard has made a name for himself chronicling what he calls the 'beauty of failure' (opens in new tab), finding objects that have a lingering folk memory of a particular time or place, re-imagining the casually discarded detritus of modern life.

Gaillard's work is shown alongside a selection of Morris Louis' Color Field paintings, chromatically rich images from the early days of American abstraction that seem to tally with his own collages, abstractions and repurposings. Gaillard has also used the late American artist's life as a jumping off point for his work, creating rubbings of manhole covers from Louis' home city of Baltimore, then blending the results with covers from Washington, creating a strange, ad-hoc fusion of different times and spaces.

'Fence (after Owen Luder)' is the exhibition's centrepiece, a fragment of a once mighty concrete icon placed reverentially on a column in the gallery, crushed and abstracted by the demolition of the structure that surrounded it, the Trinity Square car park in Gateshead. For Gaillard, Luder is emblematic of the travails of post war modern architecture (opens in new tab). The British architect's practice was unashamedly modern, yet the forms and buildings that resulted from his concrete aesthetic were frequently pilloried for being antagonistic and pugilistic, a visual affront to the existing streetscape. Where Luder and his supporters (who, it must be said, were mostly architects as well) saw idiosyncratic delight in the playful arrangement of forms, beautiful shuttering, elegant proportions and dramatic changes in scale, detractors saw rain soaked, lumpen brutalism.

Trinity Square was demolished in 2010 (opens in new tab), while one of Luder's earlier masterpieces, the fantastically complex Tricorn Centre in Portsmouth (opens in new tab), gave way to the bulldozers in 2004. It's safe to say that Luder's lost oeuvre is still unmissed by the general population, implying that brutalism is a genre doomed to eventual obscurity. Gaillard's work embraces these contradictions between utopian modernism and failed reality, the romance of absence and the beauty they leave behind in memory.

Spruth Magers Cyprien Gaillard

'Fence (after Owen Luder)',2013, is the exhibition's centrepiece, placed reverentially on a column in the gallery

(Image credit: Cyprien Gaillard)

Spruth Magers Cyprien Gaillard

The piece is a bronze replica of a security structure that Gaillard salvaged from British architect Owen Luder's Trinity Square car park in Gateshead (pictured), which was demolished in 2010

(Image credit: press)

Spruth Magers Cyprien Gaillard

A close-up of 'Fence (after Owen Luder)'

(Image credit: press)

Spruth Magers Cyprien Gaillard

Gaillard's work is shown alongside a selection of Louis' Color Field paintings on the walls, chromatically rich images from the early days of American abstraction that seem to tally with his own collages, abstractions and repurposings (pictured in the foreground)

(Image credit: Photography: Stephen White)

Spruth Magers Cyprien Gaillard

A close-up look at Gaillard's collages made from pages of reconstructed National Geographic magazines, displayed in vitrines in the centre of the gallery

(Image credit: press)

Spruth Magers Cyprien Gaillard

Installation view of 'From Wings to Fins'

(Image credit: press)

ADDRESS

Sprueth Magers London (opens in new tab)
7A Grafton Street
London W1S 4EJ

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Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.