He was my father, and I was an atom of him, destined to grow into him
With the support of the Fondation Le Corbusier, Young Artists grant 2013. The exhibition takes the form of a series of sculptural tableaux made for and installed in Le Corbusier’s unrestored penthouse apartment at 24 Rue Nungesser et Coli.
In 2011, the astounding personal effects of the artist’s grandfather, Clive Entwistle (1916–76), re-emerged from a Manhattan storeroom, where they had been retained for 30 years. The contents included extensive visual and textual material detailing Clive’s years in Paris, London, Tangiers and New York, as well as references to his early collaborative association with Le Corbusier and a formative meeting between the two architects.
Drawing from the historical practice of spolia in architecture (the borrowing of materials from earlier structures), Entwistle’s exhibition engages Clive’s collection with acts of adaptive reuse. Here spolia act as a prism through which the artist dismantles and reconstructs her late grandfather’s unrealised architectural visions, plundering them for motifs and imagery. At the same time, her works are also threaded with formal reference to features from Le Corbusier’s apartment. Just as the vast majority of Clive’s designs remain unrealised, so these tableaux toy with dimensions of failure: personal failure, failure within the realm of architectural function and materiality and, finally, failure as an opening for a positive re-emergence, where that which has been consigned to ‘failure’ is reimagined and re-embodied.
Presented as a series of assemblages, each sculptural grouping evokes the fragments of domestic interiors. The groupings contain found ready-mades many of which are components from prototypes designed by Clive, material offcuts and a number of pieces commissioned from collaborators, including ceramic objects, a glass inkwell and glass ashtray and a series of large hand woven carpets. The commissioned objects are handcrafted and developed through an exchange of source drawings from the archive, with the end result displaying inevitable slippages in form, proportion and effect from the original references. As objects sit precariously within the tableaux, Entwistle’s works become counter to purposefulness, function and the standardised and reproducible prototype of design.
Two motifs central to Entwistle’s exhibition are engendered by Clive’s archive. The colour palate is dominated by the hues of print and architectural reprographics – Prussian blue, black, brown, white and sepia – dominant in chemical processes that often result in distortions of scale. The second is the notion of Tarnhelm - a cap of invisibility that allows its wearer to shift in form and move through time, borrowed from Wagner’s opera The Ring of the Nibelung. The cap appears in Entwistle’s work in the repeated form of a cone and sphere, for example in a set of ceramic vessels shaped as two inverted cones, which are also worked with graffiti, paint tests and hewn roughness. Drawing on spatial and temporal liminality, the show itself is defined by the uneasy relationship between transformation and distortion.
Published to coincide with the exhibition was the experimental biography of Clive Entwistle, Please Send this Book to my Mother; Sternberg Press, September 2015.