Atelier van Lieshout: Bronze - Art Collector

  Atelier Van Lieshout, Pappamamma Lamp Bronze, 2013. Bronze, edition of 7 + 5AP, 40 x 50 x 40cm. Courtesy: the artists and Carpenters Workshop Gallery, London

By Emma Capps

The defiant and somewhat anarchic Dutch art collective Atelier Van Lieshout (AVL) are showing their recent limited edition design pieces at Carpenters Workshop Gallery in Mayfair.

Directed by Joep van Lieshout, AVL have built a name for themselves through their multidisciplinary practice which includes art, design, and architecture, fuelled by the group’s wide-eyed obsession with the allegedly dystopian hell that defines our existence.

Known for their abrasive and crude aesthetic, AVL revel in all that might be considered to be in “bad taste” – the violent, the impure, and the scatological all have a home within the group’s practice. Within their sprawling body of work, the arc of life is reduced to a Hobbesian nightmare; nothing but a “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” march towards death.

Their work has often involved the suggestion of alternate forms of living – a project that peaked with their own (short-lived) free state AVL-Ville, which was formed in scornful rejection of the oppressive powers of government. Their website is suitably strewn with extremist parlance (one sculpture apparently suggests “a new world order”), and their work tends to cling to a paranoid, survivalist mentality – which is, at the very least, vivid in its hostility and aggression.

  Atelier Van Lieshout, Gastronomy, 2011. Bronze, eiditon of 8 + 4AP, 56 x 113.5 x 67cm.
Courtesy: the artists and Carpenters Workshop Gallery, London

For better or worse, the deviant ambitions of the group’s larger practice is lost in the design pieces on show at CWG. The selection of bronze lamps and tables on display are clearly intended to provoke disturbance (the treelike form of one lamp suggests lynched corpses hanging from its branches, in another, entitled “Caretaker”, a figure cradles a deceased body, in yet another, the lamp’s stem grows from the head of a fetus), yet, we are inevitably left asking ourselves: for what reason am I being faced with this smorgasbord of violence?

Without context or a defined method of enquiry, these objects seem only nominally challenging; lacking the unhinged extremity of the group’s larger practice.

The work of AVL is held in the collections of Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Eindhoven Centre of Contemporary Art; Castello di Rivoli, Turin; Fnac, Paris; M.A.C., Marseille; Moma, New York; Prada Foundation, Milan; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; The Henry Moore Institute, Leeds. Carpenters Workshop Gallery has shown the work of Atelier Van Lieshout since the opening of its first space in London in 2006.

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