‘Ensemble’ by Fernando Casasempere

HS Projects is delighted to announce the opening of ‘Ensemble’ at 5 Howick Place, an exhibition of recent works, not shown in London before, by Fernando Casasempere, one of the Chile’s leading contemporary artists based in London.

‘Ensemble’ includes a new work, ‘Untitled’, 2020 which was completed just a few days before installation. ‘Ensemble’ includes works from 2010 onwards with all bar two not seen in London before, exploring ideas of landscape, architecture and history, amongst a profound sense of impending environmental collapse due to climate change. Many thanks to Parafin London for their support. 

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‘Ensemble’, Fernando Casasempere

HS Projects is delighted to present ‘Ensemble’, an exhibition of works by the renowned Chilean artist Fernando Casasempere, a sculptor working with ceramics based in London.

Casasempere’s work explores ideas of landscape, architecture and history but also proposes a profound sense of impending environmental collapse. Conceptually Casasempere’s use of earth and clay and his concern with nature and ecological issues connects him to artists associated with the Land or Earth Art movement, but Casasempere works out of a different cultural tradition, being profoundly inspired by the Pre-Columbian art and architecture of Latin America.

A series of sculptures made of porcelain and stoneware, evoke fragile structures on the verge of disintegration, drawing colours and glazes from unusual sources such as waste products from Chilean copper mines that Casasempere binds into clay, directly reflecting his interest in environmental responsibility and sustainable practice. These seemingly precarious configurations bear both ancient and modern references, of structures existing and connecting across long periods of time, from ruined Pre-Colombian cities to the built structures and bricks that dominate London. Clay carries human and topological associations that defy place and time and Casasempere’s dexterity and deep understanding of ceramics, enables him to move beyond its material limits, across eras and geographies.

A series of abstract ‘paintings’ in clay on felt, ‘Salares’, exploit the chance processes that create texture as the material dries and recall aerial photographs of alluvial landscapes. They are made of clay that Casasempere has imported from Chile and has subsequently layered onto large felt panels to create abstract images evocative of the landscape the materials come from.

‘Ensemble’ is at Howick Place from June 2020 to December 2020. 

‘Playing Real Pretend’, Laura Ford

HS Projects is delighted to present ‘Playing real pretend’, an exhibition of recent works not shown in London before by Laura Ford, one of the UK’s leading contemporary artists.

Laura Ford’s sculptures are faithful representations of fantasy with sometimes bitter sweet and menacing qualities mixed with tenderness. Ford uses humour and an acute observation of the human condition to engage with wider social and political issues. Her work is intensely crafted but playful and she has used a range of media to realise her work including drawing, painting, performance, set design and has increasingly taken on the challenge of public art alongside museum and gallery shows.

Inhabiting the space by the window, ‘Parrot in a Tree’, 2017, a girl dressed as a parrot sits on top of a tree; behind her, ‘Lion’, 2016, anxiously holds his tail, while ‘Giraffe Girl’, 2016, peers out into the street, all demanding the viewer’s attention, recognisably human and inherently tactile. Meanwhile around the corner ’Little Lords 1, 2, and 3’, 2019, three boys dressed as parrots, clothed in brilliant swathes of brightly coloured fabric, conspiratorially strut arresting the viewer with their imposing presence.

Across the space ‘Frog’, ’Poodle’, ‘Penguin’ and ‘Octopus’ from the ‘Keepers of the Wall’ series, 2016, a group of child-like animal figures, meticulously crafted, appear absorbed in their games, some looking out into the street, others jumping up on benches, or peering around plinths, ‘playing real pretend’; the fantastical and witty world of children’s play.

A storyline unfolds which, on one hand draws on our imaginative world of childhood and on the other calls this perfect world fundamentally into question. These hybrid anthropomorphic animal figures, never on a scale of one to one, always slightly larger or slightly smaller, possess a fantastical and witty quality along with a profound seriousness and depth. They inhabit the space they occupy, affecting its mood and although their eyes are absent they appear to see and have feelings and are clearly possessed of live imaginations.

Around the corner ’Tapestry Girl I and II’, 2017, two girls standing side by side, slightly larger, not on a scale of one to one, have been transformed into orange trees. Made out of steel, jesmonite and fabric, their feet are firmly rooted in the soil and their arms extended out to form the tree’s branches and foliage, connecting them to fairy tales, ancient legends and the world of childhood. They demand attention and inhabit the space they occupy, affecting its mood; in a comical but also quite sinister and insinuating way.

These hybrid figures are both immediately recognisable on certain levels but the familiar in the strange is a persistent theme. Whether this transformation is the result of desire or imposition is open to question, as is the case with all of Ford’s works, but it certainly becomes the extension of the human imagination. Looking at the works we are also playing make believe, as the element of surprise, the absurd and the nonsensical take over and we find ourselves wrapped up in mantles of imagination.

‘Pretend Real Play’ is at Howick Place from December 2019 to June 2020.