Nicolas Deshayes, ‘Infinite Raft’, (foreground), crystacal lamina, fibreglass, plaster, gloss paint.(background), 'Vernaculex', cast aluminium, cast cement, steel, rope, rubber [enlarge]

Nicolas Deshayes, ‘Infinite Raft’, (foreground), crystacal lamina, fibreglass, plaster, gloss paint.
(background), 'Vernaculex', cast aluminium, cast cement, steel, rope, rubber


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Nicolas Deshayes: Noble’s Island

Moot Gallery, Nottingham
15 October – 27 November

Reviewed by: Rebecca Hunter »

The title of Nicolas Deshayes’ first solo exhibition at the brand new artist-run Moot Gallery is taken from HG Wells’ dystopian novel The Island of Dr Moreau, evoking sinister attempts to contain, control and evolve nature, splicing and combining to create hybrid creatures with horrific results.

With this in mind, Deshayes’ five sculptures appear to hold captive something spawned in a meeting of curiously selected members. Rock is a smoothed imitation of a 2000-year-old artefact with a slick coating of car body paint. This almost-fusion results in an aura of dignified sci-fi, also recalling polished metallic minimalism. Vernaculex collages rococo-painted pigs’ trotters, nautical rope and metal into a fractured column.

Each piece feels like a strange object for study, a highly finished aid to learning, as one might come across in a classroom or museum. Although there is no set lesson, there is a sense of discovering something for, or in, oneself in the effort to synthesise the separate and sometimes jarring elements contained within one piece. However, the complex cross-referencing of so many periods, art movements, processes and materials hinders the enjoyment of Deshayes’ real gift, which is visual and sensual. Rather than merely presenting us with half-destroyed golems of cultural history, there is a classical purity to be found in the circles, cylinders, cuboids and cones that form the underlying structure of each object. The cleanly crafted Element, a perfectly cylindrical and evenly coloured model log screwed to a plain metal support, could almost be a scientist’s dull cast of a fossilised specimen, ready for display in a museum of natural history. Yet the contour is too regular to have been derived exclusively from nature.

Agnés Martin described the platonic quest for a glimpse of perfection, found in ideal geometric shapes conceived only in the mind rather than sourced from the outside world. Deshayes’ love of geometry – sometimes barely there as in the sagging rope circles surrounding Vernaculex; sometimes blatant like the mass-produced polystyrene doughnuts of Taxidermaus – is what makes travelling to Noble’s Island worthwhile.

Venue detail:
Moot »
1 Thoresby Street, Sneinton, NOTTINGHAM NG1 1AJ

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