Playful, colourful, and eclectic—the perfect recipe for postmodern design that effortlessly manifested into the works of Italian designer Alessandro Mendini (1931-2019), are on display at the London-based gallery Galerie kreo from March 9 to May 6, 2023, in Paris . Touted ‘Caro Alessandro’ the exhibit honours the legacy of Alessandro Mendini and is an ode to his two-decade-long collaborations with Galerie kreo. On display are some riveting pieces by the multi-hyphenate maestro such as—‘Kandissi’ sofa (1979), the ‘Poltrona di Proust, Bronzo’ (1990), and the ‘Cleome Elegans’ (1993), as well as original creations created for the gallery such as the ‘Lampada’, the ‘Poltrona white gold’, the ‘Umbria’ table, and the ‘Enigma’ stool. Combining Mendini’s creations with the art of filmmaking, the exhibition also features a new film, highlighting a performance by dancer and choreographer Brandon Miel Masele, centred around the ‘Poltrona white gold.’ Through his virtuosity, energy, and fluidity, Masele offers a fresh perspective on Mendini's contemporary design.
French designer Pierre Charpin, a friend and collaborator of Mendini, has contributed to the exhibition with an intimate text, borrowing from Mendini’s epistolary style that he used while at the helm of Domus magazine. “With you, it would be more accurate to speak of an oeuvre rather than a work; indeed, it is an oeuvre of multiple forms: design, architecture, drawing, writing, editing, criticism, art direction, performance, painting, installation (…) It is this whole, where things respond to one another—directly or indirectly…” shares Charpin about Mendini. Their friendship is further exemplified by the display of the 'All’aperto’ bench, a co-signed piece that reflects the creative partnership they undertook, during their joint eponymous show at Galerie kreo, in 2007.
‘‘Among the various symbolic representations of the body, there is the tree: the feet on the ground blending with the roots, the sinuous limbs resembling the trunk, the raised arms moving to the rhythm of the wind, sensitive to the air, like the branches and foliage. The human body thus appropriates the relationship between earth and sky, concentrating energies to offer them again, but in a rhythmic way, to the cosmos,” shared Mendini. The performance by Brandon Miel Masele celebrates the deep and intimate connection between objects and the human body, around one of Mendini’s important works, the ‘Poltrona White Gold’. “As an architect, I admire symmetries, lines, spaces, geometries, and rules that derive from these states of energetic tension and are capable of reproducing the human body as a sublime symbol, the body and spirit are driven towards a desire for spiritual dancing perfection. Example and mirage of an acrobatic life,’’ shared Mendini. A contemporary version of Mendini’s iconic ‘Poltrona di Proust’ which was a reinterpretation of the classic ‘bergère’ armchair, the ‘Poltrona White Gold’ is coated with white gold mosaic tiles and placed within the gallery’s Parisian space, below a skylight. The armchair beams like a beacon, and serves as a shining focal point for Masele’s graceful movements.
Having developed a multitude of bespoke collections with Galerie kreo since 2001, Mendini was a leading figure in the postmodern design movement, and one of the founders of the Radical Design Movement in the 1970s. Owning the title of ‘Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres,’ his projects hold a strong physical and visual presence, sometimes poetic, attractive or even disconcerting, addressing the psychology of the viewer. “Alessandro was curious about everything. He was sincerely interested in the projects of the gallery designers, whom he considered a bit like his family—especially the younger ones with whom he took the time to converse,” shares Didier Krzentowski, co-founder of Galerie kreo. Mendini’s design language of transforming thoughts into physical objects charged with spirituality, detached from the idea of having to produce elegant objects to meet market criteria satiated Galerie kreo’s vision of producing contemporary limited edition pieces. An alignment of thoughts rendered Mendini an inspiration for Krzentowski, making ‘Caro Alessandro’ an affectionate tribute.Caro Alessandro by Galerie kreo is on display from March 9 to May 6, 2023, in Paris
Text by Ria Jha
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