Working primarily with various methods of industrial casting, Nicolas Deshayes’ sculptures tend to be hard, made from materials such as plastic, ceramic, vitreous enamel, aluminium or cast iron. Formally, however, his works reference soft, moving and malleable things; things that are alive and functioning. Recent works have operated as working metal radiators that pump water around a room, or water fountains in public ponds, while being formally suggestive of the interior of a body. Deshayes is concerned with turning the inside out. Plumbing systems that are usually hidden, both of the body - intestines, bowels - but also of the domestic and civic environment that carries its waste and keeps it clean, are central to his work.
Swans, Deshayes’ exhibition at Modern Art, is comprised of new sculptures made from glazed earthenware, fabricated using a slip-casting process in Veneto, Italy. Deshayes’ new works are reminiscent of traditional domestic washbasins in their forms and colouring, but they are also variably abstract and painterly, each with their own composition. Like vessels turned inside out, or bulging body parts, Deshayes’ sculptures in Swans play with positive and negative space, their proportions and smooth textures evoking the underbelly of a swan, hidden beneath the surface as it moves across glossy water.
Courtesy the artist & Modern Art, London
Photo by Robert Glowacki