Chilean-born, New York-based Sebastian Errazuriz is having a bumper September as the subject of three gallery shows currently taking place on the American East Coast. His first solo museum exhibition, 'Sebastian Errazuriz: Look Again', opened at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museum of Art on 5 September, while New York's Salon 94 and Cristina Grajales Gallery celebrated the start of 'Functional Sculpture/Sculptural Furniture' last week.
It's a hat trick that's set to spread the 37-year-old designer/artist's reputation as an industry force even further than it's already gone. 'The three exhibitions were coincidentally all due for the fall of 2014,' explains Errazuriz. 'Once the museum date was set, both galleries decided to open my solo exhibitions the week after, to accommodate people who were coming from abroad to see the shows.'
And as if this wasn't enough, the artist was enlisted to do two TEDx talks in the same period. He says: 'Attempting to memorise monologues between long days of physical work finishing multiple sculptures and furniture pieces has definitely made it the most exhausting time of my life.'
The magnetic appeal of Errazuriz's work is clear to anyone who sees it. His playful appropriation of everyday objects encourages viewers to reconsider their preconceived notions of design and art. 'I don't have any major interest in having the viewer look at my life or my feelings, but I am interested in inviting the audience to look at themselves,' says the artist. 'To do this, I work with icons, symbols that already belong to the collective memory of the public. Whether it's an appropriated object that's transformed or an icon made from scratch, I'm interested in fabricating a physical embodiment of an idea that everyone can recognise - and then, with a minimal gesture, transform that which they believe they know.'
At Cristina Grajales, Errazuriz has created a group of six cabinets that transform the mundane storage object into sculpture. The iterations include 'Kaleidescope', a mirror-panelled piece that multiplies the contents; 'Porcupine', a unit covered in wooden quills; and 'Samurai', which is enclosed in woven black elastic, much like a samurai's armour. 'The fact that they are cabinets is really an excuse, a literal exercise in how we can break open the box and think outside of it,' says Errazuriz.
At Salon 94, on the other hand, the work references different movements or periods in art. 'Each of these pieces has the essence of an artwork,' says Errazuriz, 'but has been forced into functionality, thus negating its sanctity. Instead, the pieces offer a more intimate relationship that invites us to review their mystery and beauty from a different perspective, which could be as profound and yet more personal than the first.'
The centrepiece of the show is a bookcase built around a marble replica of the Venus d'Arles, a sculpture that has long been stored within the Lourve and away from public view. Errazuriz's scaffold-like treatment of the shelves is a jibe at the fact that most of Europe's antiquities are often seen in a state of preservation, often obstructed from view as a whole.
Irreverent yet intelligent, Errazuriz's work combines humour and craftsmanship to powerful effect, making him one design star we're happy to see continue rising.