Apollinaire Fine Arts pays homage to the written word in Calligram, an exhibition presenting work by five artists inspired by text as a physical, visual object. The word calligram (calligramme in the original French) was coined by Guillaume Apollinaire through his poetry collection of the same name, in which – eschewing poetic and typographical convention – he set his words free to float, twist and create works that spoke as much to the eye as to the ear. The artists in Calligram have also taken the written word as the basis for their work, playing with the physical forms of text to create a new and expressive visual language.
In this varied yet cohesive showcase, Calligram brings together paintings, works on paper, sculptural forms and performance to result in a thematic line that is at times subtly pervasive, at others deliberate and commanding. From Stuart Sheldon’s vibrant, bold and at times provocative reappropriations of classic literarary titles to Francis Gury’s delicate, tactile treatment of paper as a characteristic material, the exhibition aims to amplify the implications of the written word – augmenting its potential to open a dialogue that is principally visual.
Stuart Sheldon is a key figure in Miami’s Wynwood arts district. An artist for our times, he uses celebrated works of classic literature to make political statements, slicing and reassembling their covers into arresting collages. Sheldon burst into public consciousness with Fancy Nasty, an installation in a derelict waterfront property that became the talk of Art Basel Miami Beach in 2015. His critically acclaimed series I’m With The Banned and The Best Books Ever Written are concerned with censorship and false narratives in political discourse, and have been exhibited in Berlin, San Francisco, Dallas and Miami, where earlier this year he was also invited to speak about his work at the Perez Art Museum. For Calligram, Sheldon presents a series of new works, critiquing the corrosive use of money and power in American politics.