Precursor is a new commission by Nicolas Deshayes made in response to another, absent artist’s body of work. Deshayes’ installation at E:vent reflects an engagement with late polish artist Alina Szapocznikow’s series of untitled ‘Photosculptures’ made in the early 1970s. These works show chewing gum forms manipulated into vivid architectures apparently defying their original gob-sized proportions. Deshayes’ work comprises a frieze of vacuum formed sculptures mounted on a provisional display background made from the interior cladding of public amenity facilities. The plastic forms of Precursor embody a physical reaction to Szapocznikow’s remote images. Both suites of work feel entropic whilst simultaneously loaded with an excess of kinetic energy and performance.
Precursor forms part of the Brief Habits programme which proposes a series exhibitions as working conversations between two or more artists. Authored entirely by Deshayes, this exhibition resists becoming simply a monologue by incorporating framing devices to suggest both symbioses and diversions set up by the encounter between the two practices.
Just as Szapocznikow’s images suspend belief in the flatness of the page as Photosculptures, the voids left in the process of vacuum forming Deshayes’ relief surfaces create an unnamed potential. In Deshayes’ work, industrial manufacturing processes and fittings cover over traces of the artist and can be wiped clean of additional grime and staining. The works describe functions of the body – from chewing to aging – as well as the negative space exposed by this impact, slippage or discharge.