Entering the Ben Brown Fine Arts gallery to see their most recent art exhibition, LES LALANNE, feels like stepping straight into Alice in Wonderland. The exhibition is immediately fascinating but slightly overwhelming. After taking some time to process the exhibition, it’s easier to appreciate how all the small details animated the gallery space.
Artists Claude Lalanne and the late François-Xavier Lalanne aimed to present nature within a home environment in this exhibition. When viewing nature in a different setting, the beauty was the focus and how the animals looked dictated a message. The way that the artists played with variations of color and size draws the eye to the extraordinary structures of the pieces.
Setting the exhibition inside the actions of a tea party enabled the artists to merge everyday items with elements from nature. Both Claude and François-Xavier have distinctive pieces, and the exhibition highlights the differences in their work and the qualities that make them unique. Claude’s works are more delicate and inspired solely by nature, while François-Xavier focuses on general form and experimentation with different structures.
The message of nature within the home in LES LALANNE was enhanced by the use of contrast in the pieces. Many of the works in the exhibition were made of one color or a limited pallet of white, black and bronze. However, the walls were adorned with colored flowers. The artists also played with the idea of scale. Many pieces varied in size and that aided the audience in seeing some of the details that they wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.
François-Xavier’s Petit Chien Heroïque II “Loulou” similarity and difference with many other pieces in the exhibition, tying into both the idea of animals in an unexpected environment and the color bronze, which is integrated into the entire exhibition. This piece was a smaller piece compare to the other works of animals; the size emphasizes the meticulous details, while the larger pieces focused on structure. This piece alone shows the skill that François-Xavier had when it came to structure; it is simple and showcases his use of lines to create a sophisticated form. The lack of detail in this piece fallows the viewer to appreciate the simplicity it brings to such a vivid exhibit.
La Boîte à Sardines by Claude Is viewed through a peephole in the gallery. In the work, many utensils hangi above a giant container of sardines. When approaching the peephole, only forks and spoons are visible; the giant container of sardines is only revealed after looking through the peephole. This element of surprise definitely adds to an appreciation of this piece because it is unlike any other of the works in the gallery. I love the way that the shadows of this piece enhanced the visual aspect by transforming plain walls surrounding the installation.
Singe Avisé by François-Xavier helps to emphasize one of the main contrasts in this exhibition:the use of small versus large pieces. Single Avisé is so large that your eyes are immediately drawn to it. You first notice its color; most of the animal statues are bronze and although this is formed of bronze, its black color along with its large size makes it stand out among the various pictures. This is another example of François-Xavier’s work with different shapes in the animal statues. This helps establish a sense of seriousness, while the expression on the monkey opposes this, and plays with the ambiance of the gallery.
Between the experimentation and contrasts throughout, this exhibition perfectly captures the way that Claude and François-Xavier played with different sizes, shapes and colors in a way that can help visitors experience art in a new way – to look beyond an individual piece and connect it more with its surroundings.
LES LALANNE is open until February 15 at the Ben Brown Fine Arts gallery in Mayfair.