l’étrangère is pleased to present the first exhibition in the UK of works by David Raffini and Tatiana Wolska. Their practices revolve around repurposing, reforming and reconstituting materials, using discarded objects or detritus from the studio. The Poetry of Detritus, will feature an installation of Wolska’s recent sculptures and a selection of her works on paper, together with Raffini’s paintings.
Describing herself a “junk collector”, Wolska uses discarded plastic bottles, salvaged timber, rusty nails and foam from old mattresses and, “gives them new breath”. Wolska transforms these humble, discarded materials into seductive, poetic, biomorphic sculptures. Works such as these won Wolska a prestigious Salon de Montrouge prize in 2014, which led to the presentation of her works at Palais de Tokyo in 2015, where her spectacular installation won rave reviews. Since then her nail sculpture has become a permanent fixture at Palais de Tokyo.
Wolska recycles waste, not because she is an environmentalist, but out of habit. She was brought up in communist Poland where recycling was a necessity to cope with the lack of goods. The artist ranks and orders the poor, damaged, rejected, “pollutants” and composes new, strangely beautiful, sensuous objects. Plastic bottles of Perrier or Badoit are cut and then heat-sealed before they are metamorphosed into aerolight forms. Her undulating wooden structures are shaped into sensuous, diaphanous forms, or like parasites weave their ‘bodies’ through the gallery walls. Tatiana’s drawings echo her sculptures. Made with ink, pen, pencil and paint, they reveal mysterious forms with ribbed surfaces, folds and undulations as if tracing the DNA of a universe in gestation.
David Raffini’s practice revolves around painting, sculpture, installations, sculptures and video produced mainly in collaboration with Florian Pugnaire, with whom he has won many awards and accolades. Be it on boards, aluminium or canvas, Raffini’s paintings are initially left on the floor of his studio for an extended period, where they are walked over, and gather remnants of paint, dust and other detritus, before they enter the next stages of artistic transformation. In his own words: …when I start working on…paintings, my first pretext is…the fact of salvaging all this waste and perpetuating these various alterations of matter… Mainly abstract, the paintings sometimes hint at figuration; the artist is interested in the border through which forms are born.
Raffini’s paintings form several on-going series with titles implying action, process and gestures such as Empreinter, Recomposer, Reconstituer, Éprouver. Amongst the series presented in The Poetry of Detritus, will be Land Escape, exhibited at Maison Rouge in 2014, on which vividly colourful stains are organised in a way that suggests a representation of waste in a landscape. Also included in the exhibition will be the series Éprouver: stainless-steel plates that have been subjected to a violent process of crashing, gritting, punching and sanding before being covered with graphite and paint.
Raffini’s paintings have a humanity that is not always apparent at first sight: they are ‘ghosts’ of an accumulated history of paint, artists’ gestures and art-historical references. Together with Wolska’s sculptures they create a poetic universe of beauty, hope, memory and renewed life.