Wrong Colour Makes No Difference? l Fernanda Fragateiro
9. September - 29. October, 2011
“A modern white house is perched on the rocks, a hundred feet above the Mediterranean sea, in a remote place, in Roquebrune at Cap Martin. The site is inaccessible (…) No road leads to this house. It was designed and built by Eileen Gray for Jean Badovici and herself between 1928 and 1929. She named the house E.1027: “E” for Eileen, “10” for J (the tenth letter of the alphabet), “2” for B and “7” for G. They both lived there most of the summer months until Gray built her own house in Castellar in 1934.
- Beatriz Colomina “Battle Lines: E.1027
Fernanda Fragateiro’s Measuring E1027 re-examines Gray’s modernist house by unfolding a subtle visual narrative of oblivion and recovery, which is at the center of the history of the building. This recovery implies not only an act of physical reconstruction but also an act of “returning” the house to its designer and owner. During the post-war years E1027 was wrongly attributed to Le Corbusier and it was only in 1969 when Emmanuelle and Jean-Paul Rayon measured the villa, that Gray’s authorship was re-established. What a first appears as three rows of minimal black paintings a closer look reveals to be 21 hand-made black books with inserts of pages from the re-edition of the portfolio “E.1027 Maison en bord de mer”. Suspended on the wall, Fragaterio’s installation unfolds as a series of tableaux where, as in Gray’s architecture, an itinerary of multiple perspectives is slowly revealed inviting a kinetic experience from the viewer.
“The black books —recalls Fragateiro—made me think of Reinhardt’s black paintings which in turn reminded me of his line Right and wrong, wrong color, makes-no-difference? I take the line Wrong Color Makes No Difference? as a point of departure for an inquiry about the ‘innocence” of color. There is nothing innocent in Le Corbusier “occupation” by the use of color when he painted eight murals on the inside and outside walls of the villa without the permission of Gray, who saw it an act of vandalism.”
While in Measuring E1027 the photographs of Gray’s villa are partially shrouded by the black book covers, Fragateiro’s floor installation Le Corbusier Color Keyboards suggests the presence of Le Corbusier famous keyboards only by their reflection on the floor. The 43 colored wallpaper sheets are supported and hidden by 43 double rectangular modules, made steel painted white and organized as a rigorous grid, one of the mot recognizable emblems of modernist painting.
Fragateiro’s Double Rainbow stands in contrast with the monochromatic austerity of Measuring E1027 and Le Corbusier Keyboards. Measuring 3 meters high the colorful the tower of books, partially encased in stainless steel structure, is a continuation of Fragateiro’s research and engagement with the material published by the editorial Suhrkmap, which the artist began in 2009.
In her text Not Reading Modernism Anna Altman refers to (Not) Reading Rainbow Colors, After Willy Fleckhaus, Suhrkamp Catalogue 1963, a earlier work of Fragateiro which also has a subject Edition Surhrkamp and which …” feature a similar graphic aesthetic and a range of vivid colors on their covers (…) In 1963, the prestigious Suhrkamp Press introduced the Edition Suhrkamp to publish paperbacks of high-quality theoretical and literary texts. Initially sold for three deutsche marks, Edition Suhrkamp provided unprecedented access to Germany’s intellectual and aesthetic history, particularly to German students, in a now-emblematic serial designed by Willy Fleckhaus. The design of the books, especially the still-existing Edition Suhrkamp, has come to be symbolic of the 1968 generation.
Two other sculptural works, No Color #1 and #2 (2011), consist in two sequences of five books each. The books also belong to the Suhrkamp collection, designed by Willy Fleckhaus. These particular 13 books have book jackets -- a cover which was available for a short period of time, during the 70’s. “This feature –says the artist- allowed me to unfold the cover and suspend the book in a way that looks like a tri-dimensional painting. I do not paint but I look for paintings that already exist. I am using books with content that is politically and culturally relevant but the contents of the books are inaccessible. I see them as paintings made of layers upon layers of deep contents, displayed only as an abstract monochromatic surface. ‘Depth is hidden. Where? On the surface’ Hofmannsthal.”
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