Art Design Luxury

Masterpiece London Preview 2013 + Royal Hospital Chelsea

Art Attack

Donald Judd @ David Zwirner Gallery copyright Stuart Blakley

Donald Judd. Art for architecture’s sake. A private view at the chic David Zwirner Gallery in Mayfair. Three floors of white galleries behind a cream façade. Cool as. Next the RCA end of year show at the Dyson Building in Battersea. The gallery with a shop in residence. Unresolved duality. Is it just us or does art exist in a vacuum these days? Charles Saatchi put in an appearance, no doubt hunting for the next Damien or Tracey. Back over Battersea Bridge, a wedding cake cast in iron, walk down Cheyne and check into hospital. Royal Hospital Chelsea. We’ve saved the best till last. It’s Masterpiece, the highest end arts and antiques fair in London reserved for the nought-point-one-per-centers. Boutique Maastricht.

A red carpet over green grass leads to a white pop up portico framing the entrance to a vast marquee, a primitive structure lifted to the sublime by a printed cloak resembling the hospital building: Henry James’ “principle of indefinite horizontal extensions” in canvas. Masterpiece attracts the famous and infamous. Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice walk on by. Anna Wintour’s sharp bob and Zandra Rhodes’ fuschia bob make them both recognisable from behind, surely the key definition of fame. We are joined by leading architect and avatar of heritage today John O’Connell, first director of the Irish Architectural Archive Nick Sheaff, and reductivist artist Suresh Dutt. What’s the collective noun for design luminaries? Coterie?

Now in its fourth year, Masterpiece is a variegated container of uses, architecture, history and technologies, challenging our thinking on design, strategies and the relevance of art – and on the urban importance of aesthetics. It questions artistic predilections and speculates on ideas of time and context. A temporary setting for the permanently magical. First pitstop the Ruinart stand, the oldest Champagne house, purveyor to the likes of Browns Hotel. Next stop, The Mount Street Deli for beetroot and avocado salad.

The new Maserati Quattroporte on display provides a beautiful distraction. “The design of the Quattroporte is inspired by Maserati’s core stylistic principles: harmony of proportions, dynamic lines and Italian elegance,” explains Marco Tencone, head of the Maserati Design Centre. “It’s been kept simple and clear with a character line flowing alongthe side to define the strong volume of the rear wing, creating a very muscular look. The cabin is sleek with a three window treatment and frameless doors.” Even the engine is a work of art. Next, we call in on Philip Mould who has just sold The Cholmendeley Hilliard miniature, a rare portrait of an unknown lady of the Tudor court, for a not-so-miniature £200,000.

A pair of George III marquetry semi elliptical commodes with Irish provenance is the star attraction at Mallett, that stalwart of Dover Street antiques hub. “All this is very emphatic,” notes John, pointing to the lashings of evidently bespoke detail. Mallett attributes the commodes to the London cabinetmakers Ince & Mayhew. They were supplied to Robert and Catherine Birch in the 1770s for their home near Dublin, Turvey House. Duality resolved. John reminisces, “I picked up fragments of historic wallpaper from the derelict Turvey House, just before it was demolished in 1987.”

Onwards to the Milanese gallery Carlo Orsi which is celebrating winning object of the year, a 1920s bronze cast by Adolfus Wildt. But we are there to see Interior of Palazzo Lucchesi Palli di Campofranco in Palermo, an exquisite oil on canvas. Elegant Roman gallerist Alessandra di Castro remarks, “Oil is much more sought after than watercolour. This important aristocratic residence was the townhouse of the Duchess of Berry.” She understands the painting to be by the early 19th century Neapolitan artist Vincenzo Abbati. “It’s a wow picture!”

“The layered curtains filter the light through the open windows, imparting a soft indirect radiance to the room,” observes John. “The red banquette type seating, white chimney board and green painted frieze combine to form a most stylish Sicilian neoclassical interior. It forms the setting for a beautifully hung significant collection of paintings.” Guercino, Stomer, Titan: all the greats are represented. “My life is crowded with incident. I’m off to a bidet party in Dresden.” In between, he’s restoring Marino Casino, Ireland’s finest neoclassical building.

Architecture Art People

Suresh Dutt + Canary Wharf London

2D or not 2D


Artist Suresh Dutt’s conceptual framework integrates drawing with sculpture. A translation of the two dimensional onto multiple three dimensional planes, so to speak. He applies and deconstructs geometric forms and grid structures into space and onto surfaces. Immersive sculptures are devised that explode into an unknown yet certain dimension.

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Suresh prescribes a pragmatic approach to his creative endeavours. He provides efficient solutions which resolve the relationship between two and three dimensions. This analysis reaches a fait accompli – in the present – with his recent major work.

Winning the First@108 Public Award in 2011 enabled Suresh to create a sculpture outside the conventional confines of a white cube gallery space. The stereotypical artistic context with its three dimensional limitations is replaced by an exposed public space and all its embroiled complexities. To add a further layer to this contextual complexity, the sculpture was commissioned to inhabit two urban, but very distinct, built environments. The first (temporary) setting was in front of an Edwardian villa on Old Brompton Road, South Kensington. The second (permanent) setting is Montgomery Square in Canary Wharf.

An ornate red brick traditional enclosed backdrop in West London; a geometric mirrored contemporary exposed backdrop in East London. Suresh’s chromatic response is ingeniously simple. Paint it blue. An apparent simplicity of form – line drawn, no less (no more) – belies the intensity of his thought process. An hypothesis is presented to the viewer. He explains,

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“When we view an object in space, we are able to gauge the scale of that object by using visual information surrounding that object and previously learned knowledge. We scale the object in relation to other objects the size of which we already know and comprehend. This information and understanding is essential when we draw a three dimensional object or convert an object into an image.”


Suresh contemplates that the visual effect of foreshortening can be used to create the illusion of depth on a two dimensional surface. This allows the drawing of the object to retain the same scale as the actual three dimensional object. He enthuses, “I wanted to construct a physical representation of foreshortening in three dimensional space through the drawing of a cube. The cube is the most easily perceived and recognised geometric structure.”

This desire stems from a concern about the way a person’s perception can be altered. An unorthodox paradox emerges. A parallel lined world arises. The starting point for him is something that is universally understood.

Immersed in art theory, Suresh applies anamorphosis, the principle method of manipulating perspective. Anamorphosis is a distorted projection or perspective which requires the viewer to use special devices or to occupy a specific vantage point to reconstitute an image. Lines and shapes create an alternating perspective. It becomes impossible to retain the two and three dimensional aspects together in one view.

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Suresh manipulates spatial perception to great effect in this sculpture. The viewer is left disorientated in self made illusions. It exclaims, “We know nothing about space!” Euclidian geometry and the assumption of space are questioned. Even the tense of the sculpture’s name, Drawing Cube Blue, exudes uncertainty in the dimension of time.

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An equally brilliant and academic accompanying solo exhibition in the Salon Gallery of Dora House explores light and perception through reflection. Suresh’s ongoing fascination with the structure of the cube inspires the creation of objects of unsettling ambiguity. Visible yet invisible, physical but intangible, they exist where volume and surface collide.

His work will soon occupy a third type of space. Frenetic urbanity superseded by bucolic countryside, brownfield to greenfield, further afield a leftfield variation of Drawing Cube Blue will form part of a country house estate collection. Watch this space. Although Suresh may make us question if it is a space. Or even his field.

10. Suresh Dutt copyright