Surreal perspectives of architecture align in a duet of London exhibitions
Italian photographer Luisa Lambri has built her reputation shooting modernist architecture, particularly houses. And the very best, at that. She has photographed homes designed by Lautner, Neutra, Barragan, Le Corbusier, Niemeyer, Breuer and on. But rather than catching sweeping forms, meticulous mass, Lambri goes in close, onto windows and shutters, framing skylights, moving in on surfaces. These are not so much abstractions, but – and Lambri has been deeply influenced by the domestic portraits and self-portraits of the late Francesca Woodman – intimacies. Or, in the play of light, in the turn of a corner, a search for intimacy.
In her new show at London’s Thomas Dane gallery, Lambri gets intimate with post-war modernist sculpture, specifically pieces by Donald Judd, the Brazilian Neo-Concrete artist Lygia Clark, German minimalist Charlotte Poseneske and Barbara Hepworth (the show takes that particular route, mapped out by architects OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen, who created the internal architecture for the show).
Lambri’s camera pokes inside Judd’s aluminium boxes, confusing scale and creating rooms of confusing perspective (and revealing Judd’s famously low tolerances); closes in on the hinges and joints of Glark’s moveable aluminium bichos; frames Hepworth’s own framing of a lushly tropical garden in St Ives, creating a portal into a fantastic other world; and, most successfully perhaps, creates abstract blocks of colour in Poseneske’s aluminium sheets.
In the gallery’s other space, a few doors up, the LA-based curator Douglas Fogle has put together a companion piece for Lambri’s show. Taking off from Kasimir Malevich’s idea of the architecktons (quasi-architectural maquettes without windows) Blind Architecture includes the work of 20 artists that come at architecture from strange angles.
The show jumps from remarkable photographs of sculptural maquettes produced by the Soviet VKhUTEMAS Workshops in the 1920s; Man Ray’s Dust Breeding, a shot of a Duchamp’s The Large Glass turned into an odd, alien landscape by gathered dust and detritus; and on through a Martin Kippenberger collection of snapshots, tagged Pyschobuildings; Carl Andre’s typewritten concrete poetry; Imi Knoebel’s pioneering projections onto the facades of buildings; and Sol LeWitt’s biographical cut-outs of aerial shots of Manhattan and Chicago. As well as, inevitably, the Becher’s blind industrial buildings and infrastructure, which seem to dominate the space as the always do.
Also included is a wonderful Catherine Opie miniature of LA freeways; Jean-Luc Mouléne’s Monopole, a five-starred onyx sculpture based on wave breakers, a form, as Fogle explains, based on complex modelling of an ‘anti-wave’; and quasi-maquettes, in painted bronze by Ricky Swallow, and ceramics by Ron Nagle. It’s a show of odd resonances, creating a strange sort of cityscape.