paris: brutalist ornamentation

© nextlevel galerie

often seen as merely details of a bigger artistic or historic picture, french-hungarian artist mathias kiss [1972] reverses the scope and instead aims to emphasize the significance of ornaments in the cultural scheme of things. ornaments such as overmantels and cornices may have lost their role, their essential function in modern times, but this is looking at things the wrong way according to kiss. mind you, the man is trained as a painter-glazier in the compagnons du tour de france, a legendary craftsmen guild dating back to the middle ages, so you know where that's coming from. it's not surprising he thinks that décor in general has become like a dead skin since brutalist architecture emerged in the 1950s, eradicating ornaments from modernist interiors.

currently on at nextlevel galerie in paris is kiss' latest showcase, provokingly entitled ornementation brutaliste, and presenting a number of shiny ornaments out of context and in a star role of their own, throwing in trompe-l'œil effects and a prerequisite splash of gold for maximum effect. in fact, kiss attributes a chromatic value to the coveted material that is presented in a series of 24 framed boards, each gilded with gold leaf. the aligned monochromes become a colour chart of sorts, referencing marcel broodthaers and the belgian conceptual school and interrogating some of our fixed ideas about the value of gold. in short, the show presents a different look at ornamentation, allowing viewers an escape from the emptiness of contemporary life [on through jul 18]. location: 8 rue charlot [marais].

© nextlevel galerie