Hiroe Komai, Neil Zakiewicz - “Kit Shrines”29. Mar - 19. Apr 14 / ended DIVUS London
12 - 6pm, Wednesday - Saturday and by appointment
Exhibition of new work by London based artists Hiroe Komai and Neil Zakiewicz
Every time I visit Hiroe Komai's studio I come out seeing the city with new eyes - the flimsiness of buildings, the odd details, the materials of which everything is made. Recently she has shifted from her architecture-inspired sculptures to
casting small bronzes of objects in her studio. These have
proved extremely popular, particularly with other artists.
These are what are in this show.
Both Komai and Neil Zakiewicz take us back through 20th
century art to the beginnings of modernism, to
Constructivism, but these art references pause long around
the 1960s and 1970s. Both artists make art about the making of art. Both are witty.
Zakiewicz's pieces are of MDF and have hinged wings or
flaps of various shapes which can fold down from
the sides or from top or bottom. They are spray-painted with
the flaps closed, but exhibited with them open,
so that the holes and cut-outs in the flaps leave painted
shapes on the section underneath. They are like
irregularly shaped altarpieces, but downbeat, made with DIY
materials. These works are in a tradition with other painters
who have made art about the making of paintings. He likes materials and processes to be obvious, not concealed.
Their 'point' is to reveal the actions which produced them.
They ought to be dry but they are far from it. 'In the end there has to be something to look at,' he says, 'something to
contemplate,' and their elegance and allusiveness results
in great subtlety. Among the many things he tells me he likes are Tantric paintings - 'because they have a function.'
He adds, 'art has always had to do with religion, and really
it still does, if it functions as a replacement for it, which I think it does.' His work's matter-of-fact approach leads to an
idea of possibility.
Komai's bronzes are casts of tools and other useful objects in her studio: G-clamps, elastic bands, a hammer and nail,
Blu-Tack, rolls of tape, pencils, screwdrivers, scalpels. And
as if taking us through the door of the studio, her doorstop. Mostly it is the things she has always used to make sculpture. They are exquisitely crafted - it is hard to believe
that their colours are achieved with patination alone. The
result is that the making of work itself becomes a subject of
the work. And like Zakiewicz's pieces they really bring with
them a number of art-historical references, and beyond that, an idea of the devotion required to make art. She alludes to Mondrian in the boxes she makes to contain the sculptures,
the floors of which use his colours: primaries, black and
white. Like Zakiewicz's, her work is funny. It has always
relied on a comical contrast of the utopianism and idealism of de Stijl, Russian Constructivism and so on, and contemporary interior decor of the DIY type. But the comedy
is wistful and her formal journey is also always towards the
contemplative. It's serious.
All the pieces in this show were made in part by someone else: Komai's by a bronze caster, Zakiewicz's by someone whose job it is to spray-paint furniture. But Zakiewicz makes
his structures, Komai her moulds. And this collaboration, this giving of instructions, is also part of the work. In 1990 art theorist Michel Giroud wrote that, ‘since the beginning of the 20th century a huge upheaval has broken aesthetic comforts and established definitions, in favour of the beauty of the everyday.’ This is true, and relevant to Komai and Zakiewicz. But the art of the 'everyday' also has to deal with the history and nature of art, and where it can, with the things that art has always dealt with, with ideas about the world.
David Lillington, March 2014
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