21-Jun, 20:46

02:43, January 24 230 0

2018-01-24 02:43:03
At Maison Margiela, a Sculptor and a Designer Unite

PARIS — It was less than 48 hours before the Maison Margiela show, scheduled for early Wednesday, and the American artist Jessi Reaves was crouched in her studio in the 11th Arrondissement, putting finishing touches on her latest work. The project comprises four site-specific sculptures, formed from 10 upholstered pieces, and was commissioned by John Galliano, the fashion house’s creative director, as a backdrop to — and, for some, seating at — his spring couture collection.

Ms. Reaves, 31, a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design whose work was shown at the Whitney Biennial last year, has made a name for herself with raw, deconstructed artworks that can also function as furniture. The commission is the first time that Mr. Galliano has asked an artist to present new work alongside a Margiela collection.

“I think what drew us to one another was a similarity in our approach to technique, and an interest in making the ordinary somehow extraordinary,” Ms. Reaves said. “To find a shared understanding between artists is quite rare. But in John’s work, I see the identity of Margiela constantly coming together with his own. There is this interplay between deconstruction and embellishment, which is something I see in my own work, too.”

Mr. Galliano called her “a soul sister,” with an “exhilarating” energy and approach as well as a creative process “uncannily” like his own, particularly when it came to subverting notions of the familiar.

“The world went into slow motion when I first saw Jessi’s pieces,” Mr. Galliano said, as the sculptures were being installed in two rooms at the maison. “I said, ‘I have to meet her.’ My clothes need to be seen amongst these works of art.”

Well-known designer furniture — a Marcel Breuer Cesca chair, a Noguchi coffee table — was all but swallowed up by the amorphous sculptures covered in patchworks of vinyl, polyester, rubber and linen, all painted in layers of color to create a murky, glowing effect.

“I think we both understand that sometimes it is interesting to witness the unconscious glamour involved in the journey of design,” Mr. Galliano said. “That we are all programmed to rectify, smooth out and polish everything, but there is beauty in stopping that process completely and capturing that unfinished symphony, which is what I think Jessi’s work is about.”