Susan Hobbs, Toronto
February 2 – March 18, 2017
The work in Didier Courbot’s latest show at Susan Hobbs Gallery picks up as if in mid-sentence. Starting again where he last left off, the seven new sculptures on the main floor appear to follow the same logic as his last installation at the gallery just over three years ago, but rather than a whisper meant only to fall on the ears of insiders or those paying attention, the works build on a set of seemingly simple principles.
Each sculpture is composed of two parts: a pedestal and an object balanced on top of it. The base used to lift the object from the floor and gravity securing it to the base. Just as with the earlier Table Works series, the new body of work, Monuments, presents a number of intricate, geometric, brass armatures, which are draped with scraps of fabric, paper, foam and wood, all remnants of past projects and designs. The thin brass rods, bent and fastened into delicate cube forms, which stand between knee and hip height, prop up rumples of fabric and pieces of yellowing foam. Similarly, upstairs small slabs of marble off-cuts are balanced atop rudimentary plinths made of wood two-by-fours, cut specifically to fit the width of each stone. As the barer of these scraps and refuse, the substructures are defined through this act of service, holding up what was once discarded to be considered again. Courbot’s work can be defined through these small but urgent gestures. What is a plinth or a tabletop but a surface to present things on, and the place where the strange alchemy of turning an object into art or food into a meal can take hold. It is this processes of transition that Courbot attempts to make visible. Through building these contingent relationships – the support and the thing needing to be held – he is able to materialize gestures of care. Care, however, is not as simple as looking after what is discarded – Coubot seems to have a complicated relationship with an objects ‘purpose’. Instead, the off-cuts and scraps point to the thing that was made through their removal; the garment, architectural model or countertop made whole only in their absence. The question is: what remains?
Presented alongside the marble structures are a series of hand-drawn multiples, with repeating patterns of curved shapes, filled in with primary colours in Sol Le Witt-like patterns. Sitting on top one of the pieces of marble is a small paper sculpture made of stacked conical shapes, formed from one of the wall drawings. Cut into and removed from the piece, it is hard to tell if the sculpture is part of the works completion or its demise. Instead we are left with the tension of what to hold together and what to take away. What is necessary and what remains.